|Nir Segal: “A brilliant start to our global roll-out”|
THE CASTING of reality and game shows — very often the make-or-break factor in a format’s success — is one area of the entertainment industry that technology seems to have forgotten.
Until now, that is.
At MIPCOM last month, news broke of a new cloud-based technology for casting reality shows, which integrates videos, pictures, social-media feeds and documents to create a 360-degree image of a potential contestant. Even more interesting to cash-strapped producers, the platform — the brainchild of Tel Aviv-based systems specialist eTribez — claims to cut the cost of casting by around 40%.
Given the time, effort and expense associated with traditional casting — a famously labour-intensive process involving open calls, paper forms and auditions — it is perhaps unsurprising that Eli Abayan and Nir Segal, eTribez’s co-founders, were two of the most popular men in Cannes.
“We had around 50 meetings,” Segal reports. “We spoke to virtually all the super-indies, as well as smaller producers — and a good 80% of them said that our casting platform was absolutely something they needed. That’s given us a lot of confidence in our product and its market potential. It was a brilliant start to our global roll-out.”
In the month since Segal and Abayan returned to Israel, one of those Cannes discussion has been converted into hard business. Segal explains: “We just started a new co-operation with Endemol and Fox in Finland, where we’re involved in the new season of Wipeout. The deal was a direct result of MIPCOM — and we expect more to follow.”
The eTribez casting platform, which grew out of eTribez’s core business of online screening, selection and registration systems for business and education, has already proved its worth in Israel and the US, where it has been used to cast the latest incarnations of Survivor, Big Brother, The Amazing Race, MasterChef, Worst Cooks in America and Come Dine With Me. Segal says that Survivor’s casting agents used eTribez to shift through 50,000-plus would-be castaways, register contestants online, manage multi-staged screenings and selection, and communicate with candidates.
|The eTribez Casting Platform: inexpensive, efficient and easy to implement|
The feedback from The Amazing Race was equally positive, with the producers reporting triple the number of auditions and registrations up by 56%. “They were delighted with the speed and user-friendliness of our system,” Abayan adds. “They could identify and track the thousands of applications in a fraction of the time it would have taken with a paper-based system, and see immediately how couples interacted with both each other and the camera. eTribez allowed them do things they certainly couldn’t have done with an Excel spreadsheet…”
Helping Segal and Abayan in their global push is Israeli format veteran Avi Armoza, who is offering the eTribez Casting Platform as part of what he calls his “total commitment to clients”. “A lot of our formats are based on casting,” he adds. “This software is an efficient way to manage and control that process, while ensuring the best results.”
But it’s not just the savings in time and money that are generating interest. The eTribez platform also enables producers to turn their application database into an ongoing casting resource that can be re-visited for future shows, build social-media buzz to drive registration and brand awareness, and even monetise the audition process by charging micropayments.
“Those points really hit home,” Segal says, explaining that, at present, producers tend to destroy their massive, paper-based databases after every show. “One US producer told that he hires eight students for a week after every show, just to shred information. That’s mad. It’s taken months to accumulate that resource, not to mention the trees that have died in the process.”
Abayan adds: “Almost every production company we speak to has the same problems with casting — it’s expensive, inefficient and wasteful. What we are offering is an easily implemented solution that will save time, stress and money. Everybody gets that.”