‘Dancing with the Stars’: Inside the show’s jump from ABC to Disney+

as such “Dancing with the starsFrom ABC to Disney+ on Monday, viewers will notice several major changes to the quiz series as it historically switches to season 31 live — and most notably, there will be a lot more to the show than they are used to.

This is because Disney+ is ad-free, which means producers have to fill in every two hours without any timeouts.

“The first task, first thing, is that there are no more ad breaks,” says Executive Producer Konrad Green. “And a lot of other decisions resulted from that. We have up to two hours to fill the nose, rather than the two-hour commercial version. That’s about a third of the extra material you have to find for the show.”

The two-hour television broadcast on ABC actually consists of 43 minutes of content every hour, or 86 minutes all together. Disney+ episodes will be taped, at least initially, in the full 120 minutes. That won’t be a problem at first, says Green, as this season’s “DWTS” will have more contestants to follow — 16 in total (there were only so many famous dancers back, in fall 2009).

“What we’re going to do is use what would have been traditional ad breaks as a way to create more programming and to engage our audience more,” says Michael Ball, direct consumer head of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution. “So it’s a very exciting task for the team, because it’s a completely different format than it was in the past. And I think people are going to be really excited about some of the ideas they’ve come up with to complete the story in the shows.”

But adding more content to the show is only part of the challenge. Green and his team also had to figure out how to reset the stage between shows without the pauses that come during commercials. Live TV producers usually rely on breaks not only to prepare for the next chapter, but also to take a breath.

“We lost 34 minutes of resetting the time,” he says. “So these are our big challenges this season, how do we meet that [extra] Editorial time, and second, how do we deal with wasting those minutes we used to use for reset? “

With no breaks, it will be up to a new co-host Alfonso Ribeiro To fill that time while producers scramble to prepare for their next performance. Ribeiro will be stationed at the Skybox “Dancing with the Stars,” where contestants gather when they’re not on the dance floor. After the host Tyra Bringing celebrities and dancers back to Skybox, and Ribeiro will be interviewing them about their performances and anything else that has happened over the past week.

The Sky box “DWTS”, which was a staple of the show during most of its run, has been phased out in recent seasons, but Green believes it will be an important part of Disney+’s transition.

“We definitely needed to bring back an area of ​​the set so we could clean up the stage and really move things around,” Green says. “So we brought back the skybox feature, and that meant bringing in a co-host as well. Alfonso is a great addition to the team. He’s a former champion of the show, but he’s really passionate about it. He’s a friend to a lot of the dancers, he really understands what makes the show so special and it brings his humor and real interest.” Celebrities and their travels.

This time the cast includes actor Joseph Baena, actor Selma Blair, comedian Wayne Brady, weather announcer Sam Champion, Charlie D’Amelio and Heidi D’Amelio (“The D’Amelio Show”), country star Jesse James Decker, TV star Trevor Donovan, Daniel Durant (“CODA”), Teresa Giudice (“The Real Housewives of New Jersey”), Vinny Guadagnino (“Jersey Shore”), Charlie’s Angels’ star Cheryl Ladd, Jason Lewis (“Sex and the City”), drag star Queen Shangela, singer Jordin Sparks and Gabby Windey (“The Bachelorette”).

As the weeks pass and the contestants are eliminated, Green says he’ll have to find other items to fill the time. Pre-recorded packages may be part of that, but he also has other live ideas.

“As the show progresses through the season and we have fewer people in it, we can let the show breathe in different ways,” he says. “we offer [supporting dance] The band’s return and some of those transitional walks will put the band there to do a little rendition of the dances. The reason for this is just trying to break up the flow a bit. As the show progresses, and we have more time on the show, we may get it [judge] flexible [Goodman] To do some small master class between dances where he points to a dance that is repeated frequently in a particular episode, and he will show what he is looking for and the details of people dancing in front of him.

“And then obviously in subsequent shows, we’re able to bring back some items that we haven’t done in recent seasons because of COVID,” Green added. “So things like team dances, maybe marathon dances, group dances, things like that. So, we’re relieved that we can kind of break up the flow of those two hours.”

Meanwhile, Green says he will no longer have to watch the clock like he did before. If the “DWTS” episode lasted a few minutes, or ended early, it wouldn’t matter.

“We don’t want to go more than two hours because I think two hours is a lot of TV watching,” Green says. “So we’re trying to make that our max. I think that’s going to be very tight and fast in the first episodes, definitely the first episode. But then there’s going to be more time and we can go down to 10 minutes and 15 minutes if we need to. With a twist. The show is over the season we can let him breathe a little more.We don’t have to be totally nervous about the judges rushing into their comments or Alfonso speeding up and his behind-the-scenes talks.

“For someone who has had the discipline of always having to hit that on the nose and always do that, that’s a real luxury,” he adds. “That’s the flip side to missing ad breaks, is that you have a little bit more flexibility about how long a show should be.”

DWTS will continue to maintain a five-second delay if something inappropriate happens or is said in front of the camera. This is not because of the FCC – unlike broadcasting, broadcasting does not have government-imposed content regulations – but because of Disney standards and practices.

“We are effectively operating under the same standard broadcast protocols that we used when we were on the air,” Green says. “We want to be a family show, a show that everyone feels comfortable watching. So we don’t want to change any of that in terms of the style and feel of the show just because we don’t have the same organizational framework. We’re basically working with our broadcast standards team as before.”

Powell adds: “Dancing with the Stars is a very well-established brand. We want to make sure we respect this brand.”

Also new this year, thanks to a live stream: ‘Dancing With the Stars’ will be available to watch live nationwide at the same time on Disney+ (8PM ET, 5PM PT). This means that the entire country (and Canada) will be able to simultaneously vote on their favorite dancers and celebrities for the first time. (In recent years, as “DWTS” has shrunk to one night on ABC, with an exclusion at the end of the show, only people watching live in Eastern and Central time zones have been able to vote.)

“There has always been a somewhat nice voting process due to the time zones in the United States,” says Green. “That everyone can watch across the country, and everyone can vote across the country at the same time, it’s new and very simple. Sometimes that’s the logic that streamers and modern technology have bought into the process. You can’t do that on a broadcast network. It’s more of a closed operation. Once you start broadcasting, I think the audience is more familiar with dropping the show at a certain time. And if you’re on the West Coast, that’s a different time than if you’re on the East Coast.”

There have been plenty of series that have jumped from broadcast to live — in fact, NBC’s daytime TV series “Days of Our Lives” made the leap to Peacock last week. But perhaps there has never been such an ambitious turnaround as “Dancing with the Stars,” a live show with multiple performances and an interactive component for audiences.

“It definitely surprised me a bit,” says Valerie Bruce, president of LA Productions at BBC Studios, of Disney’s decision to switch the show to live broadcast. “But I feel very lucky that we will be the first live show on Disney+.”

In bringing back a co-host (Banks has been out solo since joining the show in Fall 2020), adding more contestants and filling in more production time, it’s clear that this will require more budget this season. “I would say that Disney+ is providing us with enough resources to produce the level of show they want and it will be of the same level you’ve seen before,” Bruce says. “It has been improved in some areas.”

“Dancing With the Stars” is a global franchise that is produced in more than 60 territories, some of which are also non-commercial. (This includes the format creator, “Strictly Come Dancing” in the UK, which plays without ads on the BBC.) But that’s still a big adaptation of the US team that has produced the show for a broadcast network audience since it launched here in 2005.

Green was the original showrunner for “DWTS” at the time, and it ran until the 18th season in 2014. But, he says, “the challenge of bringing a show he loved so much to a broadcaster and trying to really make that work” convinced him to return for season 31.

“You’re going to where the audience is, and you’re trying to bring that sense of live action to the live broadcast,” he says. “The idea of ​​going back to her and being able to try to manage that transition was something I couldn’t turn down.”

Green credits Disney+ with handling most of the technical challenges of taking the show to stream while his team can focus on the content.

“I can’t pretend I understand every detail or every bit of the technical stuff of how to achieve this,” Green says. “But we have people on the team who really understand that and I think I’m sure we’ve figured this out. We’ve tried to be very strict about that and how everything works and the testing that we’re doing. Keep in mind that a lot of these tracks have been effectively done before Using live streaming. A lot of what we do is known stuff. But yeah, it’s always a little nerve-wracking until you get the premiere on air and everything works.”

Paul says, “The internet wasn’t built for live video streaming. Fortunately, we have a lot of experience doing that [live TV] With ESPN +, With Star +, With Hulu. Our team members know how to operate the streaming service in a live environment. There are all kinds of things that we’re dealing with on the tech side to make sure the experience is consistent, and the image quality is great.”

Next season, Green and his team may have to adjust their plans again, as Disney+ introduces a advertiser-supported category in December. At this point, Live DWTS will have to go back to ad breaks – while also including content in those breaks for viewers who signed up for the Disney+ ad-free tier.

“We’ll need to craft a programming strategy for how this works at both the premium and base level,” Powell asserts. Green adds, “Maybe we’ll be showing some behind-the-scenes work. Maybe additional material will be put in those gaps. I think that’s maybe more conversational for next season.”

Other than “DWTS,” Paul says there are no other live shows coming on Disney+ yet — but he’s optimistic about the concept.

“I think there are plenty of opportunities to differentiate the Disney+ experience with live programming,” he says. “I think there is a lot of content that can present itself really well. And while this is the first live TV series we do on the platform, we think we will learn a lot from this experience. We also have a bunch of ideas in the pipeline. So we hope you see more in the future “.

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