The powerhouse that is Israeli Indie Keshet (Homeland, Rising Star) has done what I’ve been trying to do for a long time, create a TV show where live in-app voting is completely integrated into the format and makes a compelling visual impact on the show. It’s been produced brilliantly and I’m very jealous that I wasn’t involved in its creation, but so glad that it’s finally happened to TV.
Rising Star is yet another talent show format but this time it is, as far as I can tell, a truly interactive experience. The series aired on Keshet2 September 2013 attracting a 49.4% audience share, the Channel‘s biggest debut in 15 years. Following its MIPCOM debut, It has sold to ABC (the US), Atresmedia (Spain), ITV (the UK), TV2 (Hungary), RTL (Germany), M6 (France) Rossiya1 (Russia) and GloboTV (Brasil). Time for the format creator to ask for a pay rise?
The format is almost exactly half way between The Voice and The X-Factor and has a second screen play where viewers become real-time judges via a mobile app and some pretty clever backend realtime software magic . More than nine million votes were cast during the September airing (more than the Israeli total population) and according to Keshet the participation rate was 10 times higher than any previous shows. Industry insiders wonder whether the ratings will fall of a cliff after the in-app voting is finished.
Check out how the interactivity works with the TV with this clip of Aryeh and Gil Gat singing Sound of Silence
So how did a show with live interactive voting through a mobile app even get developed – let alone commissioned?
And why was the show devised in Israel, not know for its talent shows other than imports from the UK. Why didn’t we come up with it here in the UK? Why didn’t we come up with an innovative format like this?
Here are some thoughts on that:
1 – Keshet is the producer and the broadcaster. That certainly helps if you come up with a ‘risky’ format like this when producers are literally handing over control of the content to a live audience via an app.
2 – It’s also helpful that the idea originated in Israel, a slightly less competitive market in than the UK where every TV flop is noted down making commissioners cautious by nature. Commissioners in the UK would be tempted to say: “Wow, ok a talent show with live in-app voting? Gosh, shall we just try to get the TV right first everyone?” Commissioners have to be conservative to keep their jobs no matter what Channel4’s latest ad tells you. They’ll be watching their backs and this would be risky for any number of reasons. Their first response would be “Nobody needs another talent show” but Keshet have inspiring stats.
3 – Keshet is a technology company too. They have MakoMobile a twin screen tech subsidiary. Hands up who can invite their techy friends in from down the hall to the next brainstorm. Oh yeah…the BBC. But apart from them?
4 – OFCOM would be all over this like a rash. Robust voting. No intervention. Imagine handing over the voting to the audience in this way. There’s no cost to vote so it’s free. In Israel it may be different but in the UK you can get your social network friends to vote for the worst singer / musician of them all and producers can only watch in horror. It’s like voting for Wagner (2010 X-Factor) but it doesn’t get less funny because no-ones racking up major phone bills. Peter Fincham and the ITV team will have sorted out that wrinkly problem out before showtime probably in 2015. We don’t want RisingStarGate do we?
So it’s a shame we in the UK didn’t devise the first true twin-screen prime-time format, but we have our excuses. Perhaps this creative upstart may inspire us and the TV development teams to wake up and smell the interactive coffee? The future has arrived and its an inconvenient truth that everyone needs to start thinking a little differently if they too want a format that goes global in 4 months. That doesn’t mean everything needs to be Interactive but it perhaps it should be thought of as a major format component rather than something that should ‘ideally’ be addressed after the format has been thought up and written up. Perhaps interactive has woken from the dead and now it’s centre stage. Again.