Watch Out, 'Voice': Israel's 'Rising Star' Coming to Global TVs
This story first appeared in the Dec. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Rising Star could be the next big thing in television. Since being introduced at MIPCOM in May, the hot music competition format from Israeli producer Keshet has closed deals in a dozen major territories, including two big contracts in late November with Britain's ITV and Spanish group Atresmedia.
At the beginning of this week, Brazil's Globo, the largest commercial TV network in Latin America, struck a deal with Keshet for the format, saying it would also produce and air a local adaptation of Rising Star. And ABC previously picked up U.S. rights and set 10 episodes for summer, which the parent company of Dick Clark Productions will co-produce.
In a multiterritory rollout that could mirror the launch of Dutch producer Talpa's The Voice, Rising Star also is set to hit screens in 2014 in Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Scandinavia, Hungary and Brazil.
Similar to American Idol, The Voice and The X Factor, Rising Star includes audience voting but with a live twist. Viewers vote via a mobile app during performances as images of those voters appear on a wall of screens dividing the singer from the studio audience. If a performer gets enough votes, the wall rises and the singer advances. Judges' votes also play a role, though audience votes count for more.
"The bold real-time voting element means that viewers' votes control every twist and turn of the live program -- and that makes for an incredibly dramatic, emotional and exciting show," says ITV exec Elaine Bedell.
Just as other formats are starting to look tired, Rising Star's live voting element also provides access to the second-screen market of mobile surfers and tweeters. "The second-screen element is key to [the format's] appeal," says Anke Schaferkordt, co-CEO of RTL Group, which bought Rising Star for its networks in Germany and France.
The show has been a huge hit in Israel, debuting to a whopping 44.7 percent market share on Keshet's Channel 2 this fall and hitting a record 51.7 percent for recent episodes. That compares with softening ratings of many talent shows that have in some cases been on the air for 10 years.
But questions remain, such as whether Rising Star's live voting would work in a country like the U.S. with multiple time zones. Keshet says it has worked out the problem, but it and ABC so far have remained mum on details.