Israeli Singing Show 'Rising Star' Scores Big Ratings in Finale

'Rising Star hosts Esti Ginzburg and Assi Azar flank winner Evyatar Korkus (Credit: Ronen Akerman)

Ahead of a 2014 American debut, the competition show wrapped its inaugural season as over one million viewers tuned in to find out who won.

Hot TV format Rising Star wrapped its inaugural season Tuesday night in Israel with ratings of 40.3 percent and a household share of 58 percent, which translates to 1.12 million viewers. 
The Keshet Broadcasting singing competition reality show premiered in September and has already been sold to major markets, culminating in a deal with ABC, via DC Media, parent of Dick Clark Productions, for a 10-episode order tentatively scheduled for summer.
Rising Star has generated significant industry buzz attributed to its local success and innovative voting system, showcased on air in real time during a contestant's performance. Through the use of a special smartphone voting application, a massive LED screen gracing the stage rises in a dramatic reveal of the hidden contestant, once accumulated live-voting percentages from in-house judges and at-home viewers reach 70 percent. Keshet reports that over 10 million votes have been cast during the first season, which averaged a 33.8 rating and 47.4 share.
Keshet International's runaway selling spree for international versions includes U.K. TV giant ITV, RTL in Germany, France's M6, Artesmedia in Spain, Globo network in Brazil, TVI in Portugal, Sony Pictures-controlled group Toro Produzioni in Italy, Rossiyal in Russia, Nordisk for Scandinavia and Hungary's TV2 -- making the "it" format well on its way to become 2014's biggest global launch.
Keshet VP or Programming Ran Telem told The Hollywood Reporter that with the Israeli edition now complete, the next journey is to all international territories about to embark on their own adventure. "We went on the air three months ago and none of us were able to foresee the power we were about to unleash, our first sale to France was three episodes in," he says. "When one acquires a format, it is usually just knowledge and experience he inherits from original creators, but with our show it's different because it entails technology that we developed, and which has now finished its 24-episode test run in Israel. If I'm buying a format, I want peace of mind that everything's working."
The format's whirlwind success since its MIPCOM introduction in late September sparked one of the tightest ratings race in Israeli TV history, going up against -- albeit not on same nights -- the local launch of The X Factor rival Channel 2. The latter debuted in late October to an outstanding 40 rating and 52.3 share, beating Rising Star's premiere of a 32.6 rating and 44.7 share achieved six weeks earlier, making it the biggest September numbers ever, tied with the season 2 finale of MasterChef Israel
The X Factor kept its momentum throughout preliminary stages of the competition in its first six weeks on the air, edging out Rising Star in a tight overall race by about a 2-3% ratings difference. Since progressing to the live shows two weeks ago, The X Factor saw a slight tumble while Rising Star soared as it was winding down its season. Ultimately the big headline is that both same genre shows brought in huge numbers and did not cannibalize each other as was initially suspected.
Not willing to divulge details of ABC's imminent announcement regarding Rising Star, Telem says he's hoping the show's US edition will soon battle out with existing singing competition shows -- but for some it already is. In recent weeks, local media outlets in Israel have reported on similarities following Fox's ratings-challenged The X Factor introducing a "fifth judge" in the form of a social media live-voting screen, which seemed all too familiar as Rising Star's noticeable key visual component.
"When you hear an existing, known show is taking inspiration from yours and someone compares the two, it's a compliment,” says Telem. "Obviously, these are well-respected professionals that are taking notice, but on the other hand it's just one part of a much larger package that is truly the big deal. Eventually you cannot imitate and you have to go do the real thing … Ultimately good TV wins."