Family Channel tests new broadcast strategy for The Next Step

Following the series' season three premiere on March 16, the channel will air a new episode every weeknight until the mid-season finale in April.
The Next Step

DHX Television’s Family Channel is testing a new rollout strategy for season three of The Next Step, which will see a new episode air every weeknight following its premiere on March 16.

Every episode of the first half of season three will air daily over a three-week period. For past seasons of The Next Step, Family Channel only aired one new episode per week.

Ahead of the season three premiere, Family Channel will also release seasons one and two of the series on Family OnDemand on March 6 for a limited period. Season three episodes will also be made available on Family OnDemand the day after they air on linear TV.

The strategy is designed to address young viewers’ new habits, who expect new content faster and are used to binge-watching on SVOD services, said Michael Goldsmith, director, original programming at DHX Television. While the primary goal is to create a show that audiences like, Goldsmith said, it is also important to consider if the show is being delivered in a convenient way for the most people possible.

On the linear side, airing new episodes daily takes advantage of the highly serialized nature of The Next Step, Goldsmith said, noting that similar strategies are deployed for soap operas. He says fans of The Next Step were adamant that they wanted to see more new episodes faster, which prompted the channel to go with a new episode-a-day strategy.

“Traditional TV services don’t do a lot of that, but it seemed like the sort of show where people…want to know what happens next,” Goldsmith said.

The new episodes will roll out on linear television during March Break, which DHX characterizes as “the Super Bowl for kids,” Goldsmith said. The new live TV episodes are a treat for kids at home during the break, while the kids who go away can watch the season three episodes when they return on VOD, Goldsmith said.

“With viewers having so many different options right now, the expectation is that they can watch anything at any time. So we are just trying to deliver on that,” Goldsmith explained.

Family Channel will promote the revamped schedule during the series’ upcoming national concert tour The Next Step Live on Stage. Goldsmith said Family Channel will also do digital ad buys to market the new season of the series and the change in scheduling. The second half of season three will bow in the fall, which is a strategy Family Channel has used for previous seasons of the series.

The Next Step is commissioned by Family Channel and produced by Temple Street Productions. The series is executive produced by Frank van Keekan, Ivan Schneeberg and David Fortier. The Next Step is financed in part by The Shaw Rocket Fund and the Canada Media Fund. The series is distributed internationally by BBC Worldwide.