Hollyoaks, the UK’s inaugural streaming-driven soap opera, is now granting fans the opportunity to catch all the fresh drama even earlier, with episodes accessible for streaming the day prior to their airing on E4. Additionally, for the first time, new episodes will be viewable on YouTube the week following their streaming and broadcast on E4.
Hollyoaks is adopting a more streamlined and pertinent digitally-focused release schedule to align with how young audiences discover and consume content. The show’s third viewing window will transition from Channel 4’s linear channel to YouTube, marking it as the UK’s premier nationally digital-centric soap. In 2023, 64% of viewers tuned in to the soap via streaming or E4, resulting in 556 million minutes of the show being streamed in the initial half of the year. The weekly omnibus will persist in being broadcast on Channel 4.
This move underscores Channel 4’s ambitious and pioneering digital strategy to lead in adapting to and influencing the evolving viewing habits of young people. It also reflects the mounting demand for on-demand drama.
Hollyoaks, owing to its youthful demographic, is already at the forefront with a stream-first approach, with pre-broadcast views up by +53% compared to the same period last year, coupled with a linear broadcast on the youth channel, E4. This transition builds upon the success of Channel 4’s strategy in releasing youth-oriented shows such as Married at First Sight UK and Married at First Sight Australia, which has yielded record viewership on Channel 4’s streaming platform this year.
The new scheduling pattern commences on Monday, 25th September, coinciding with an extravagant stunt week featuring sensational and unforgettable storylines set in stunning new locations, sure to captivate audiences with intense scenes.
The week opens with an hour-long special, a show-stopper in which viewers will witness the love triangle between Felix, his girlfriend Mercedes, and best friend Warren reach a climactic turning point. Elsewhere, there are twists and turns involving a murder, as a troubling secret about influencer Rayne is uncovered, potentially leading to her downfall.
Channel 4’s Chief Content Officer, Ian Katz said: “Hollyoaks has always been the youngest and most innovative soap so it’s fitting that it should be the first to embrace the changes in the behaviour of younger viewers and switch to a genuinely digital-led release pattern. It was the first UK soap to move to a stream-first model last year and this is the next phase of that evolution. We hope making Hollyoaks available on YouTube, as well as our own platforms will introduce a whole new generation to the show.”
Hollyoaks will continue its emphasis on digital content that amplifies on-screen events. This has recently included the BAFTA-nominated Hollyoaks IRL, which delves into the lives of real people impacted by the show, addressing themes like mental health, knife crime, violence against women, and conversion therapy.