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Staff cuts at Hollyoaks as it moves to 3 episodes a week

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Channel 4 has announced that Hollyoaks will be moving to 3 new episodes a week on streaming, E4 and YouTube.

The “data-led move” is part of the broadcaster’s decision to become a digital-first “public service streamer.”

However, in its 30th anniversary year, Lime Pictures said the decision by Channel 4 would lead to job cuts.

“Given the success of the new streaming-first model, we are delighted that Hollyoaks remains at the forefront of Channel 4’s digital first strategy, bringing authentic, unexpected and untold stories that inspire younger audiences in a way that they want to consume them,” said MDs of Lime Pictures, Kate Little and Claire Poyser.

“Evidently there are implications that will mean we have to reshape Hollyoaks’ production model and amidst the buoying news for the future of the show and its audience, we must also acknowledge that a reduction in cast and crew, will be very difficult and we will support everyone in that process.”

Channel 4 said it would work alongside Lime Pictures to “minimise these impacts where possible.”

“Hollyoaks is on sparkling creative form at the moment and these changes will ensure it remains compulsive viewing for a new generation of fans as viewing habits change. The show has always been at the forefront of innovation in all of its forms, including increasing and decreasing episode numbers in response to viewing habits,” said Ian Katz, Chief Content Officer.

“These changes are a decisive step forward, designed to reflect how audiences are watching. A tighter schedule promises a new era of more scale and impact. We are of course mindful of the impacts on the production team and will work closely with Lime Pictures to minimise these where possible.”

From September 2024, the new, “data-led drop pattern” will see the soap move from 5 new episodes per week to 3 on streaming, E4 and YouTube. 

That’s because its research has identified this as the “optimum pattern” to keep its current audiences hooked and attract new ones.

There will also be an hour-long weekly omnibus episode broadcast on Channel 4 and available to stream. 

The changes to Hollyoaks will be “supercharged” with the appointment of new Executive Producer, Hannah Cheers:

“Hollyoaks offers a unique proposition: bold, escapist, relatable, youth-skewing and multi-generational stories, told in its innovative and technicolour signature style. The show continues to bring people together by making them feel something, and everything. Approaching its 30th anniversary in 2025, Hollyoaks matters just as much now as it did at its trailblazing launch,” explained Cheers.

“There may be speculation about the future of Continuing Drama, but as someone who was brought up on the nation’s soaps – and remains a true fan – I believe their value must not be underestimated. 

“Soap audiences grow up alongside their favourite characters over a period of many years; the investment in their stories is huge. The genre’s ability to initiate important conversations is unparalleled, especially when it all comes served up with joy, humour and jaw-dropping twists. I want future generations to experience that.”

“I am honoured to lead Hollyoaks into its fourth decade on Channel 4 and drive the vision of this transition.”

Cheers has been interim showrunner since September 2023.

According to Channel 4, January’s special episode that featured an explosive multi-vehicle collision, exploding a number of stories and introducing new characters saw streaming views up 62% over the previous four-week average making it the biggest Hollyoaks episode ever on Channel 4 streaming.

The new digital first streaming pattern for Hollyoaks launched in September last year, is also performing strongly with the show’s streaming views up 33% since November 2023 on the four months prior.

At Hollyoaks we have always been brave, leading the way and not only tackling stories that others wouldn’t dare to, but changing and evolving to the needs of our viewers,” said Ben Wadey, Channel 4 Commissioning Executive for Hollyoaks.

“Don’t forget Hollyoaks initially launched with just one episode per week in 1995, gradually increasing to two in 1996, three in 1999, four in 2001 and finally five in 2003.But now in 2024 we must flex again, as we have always done, to best serve our audiences and keep our young skewing soap in step with young viewers. We’re not afraid of change, it has been key to Hollyoaks’ longevity so far and will be the key to its future.”   

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