How Rabbit Square’s Crawford is getting a jump on audiences

Crawford pic
The unconventional family comedy is using a hybrid digital-linear releasing strategy to avoid clashing with the Winter Olympics.

Rabbit Square Productions’ inaugural project, Crawford, is launching online today on CBC Player in the first part of a hybrid digital-linear releasing strategy.

Originally slated for a Winter 2018 linear debut, the unconventional family comedy will first drop on the pubcaster’s digital platforms Feb. 2, with its linear rollout pushed back to the summer. The reason for the novel approach, said Rabbit Square co-founder Laura Michalchyshyn, is to avoid a clash with the Winter Olympics.

“We had a long discussion [with CBC] about how to deal with the Olympics when you have a serialized 12-episode story arc,” Michalchyshyn told Playback Daily. The CBC came back with the strategy of an all-at-once digital release (which Michalchyshyn said aligns with the content-consumption habits of its younger-skewing audience) followed by a weekly rollout for linear viewers over the summer. It was an idea the producers jumped at.

Crawford follows a failed recording artist who moves back in with his parents and turns his compassion for raccoons into a successful business. The Toronto-shot series stars Jill Hennessy (Crossing Jordan), Kyle Mac (21 Thunder), Daniel Davis Yang (Riverdale), Alisce Moran (Man Seeking Woman) and John Carroll Lynch (American Horror Story).

The seeds of the project were sown almost 20 years ago when Trailer Park Boys creator Mike Clattenburg pitched Michalchyshyn, who was then the VP of programming at Showcase, on the Nova Scotia-set show. The pair kept in touch over the subsequent years and reconnected five years ago when Clattenburg pitched Michalchyshyn on Crawford: this time as a production partner. The duo formed Toronto-based Rabbit Square in 2015 and, with its first season set to launch, they’re now in development on a second season.

Comedy Central, which was initially announced as the U.S. broadcast partner, is no longer attached to the series due to the departure of general manager David Bernath, who signed on for the series initially. U.S. and international rights to the show are being shopped by Kew Media’s distribution arm.

Crawford is created by Clattenburg and co-created by recording artist Mike O’Neill (Moving Day). Writers on the series are Clattenburg, O’Neill, Zoe Whittall (Baroness von Sketch Show), Kathleen Phillips-Locke (Sunnyside), Monica Heisey (Baroness Von Sketch Show) and Timm Hannebohm (Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day).