The first Off-Season Report

Posted on Mar 24, 2016

Well, it's going to be a long time before a Thursday blog precedes a brand new episode of Heartland, but - as has been the case for years now - there still will be a Thursday blog, because we're not going to go away and leave you fanatical Heartlanders with nothing to read, contemplate or discuss until fall, when season 10 of television's favourite family drama premieres on CBC television.

So this is the first of a few Off-Season reports, where I will ask questions that I answer many times individually here, and on Heartland on CBC's social media sites. I'm hoping this helps you better understand your favourite (I hope) series.

1) What do I mean by Off-Season
Really there are two Heartland seasons: the production season, when the 18 episodes are filmed, and the broadcast season, when Canada gets to watch the new season. So I am going to tell you when these are for season 10, as well as I can.

PRODUCTION SEASON

  • Production Office opens on April 18
  • First Day of Principal Photography: May 9
  • Last Day of Principal Photography: December 5

BROADCAST SEASON

Sundays at 7:00pm (7:30 in Newfoundland). Exact dates are still to be determined, but very most likely starting sometime between the middle of September and the first two Sundays in October. No new episodes for most of December and then the season will conclude in mid to late March or early April.

So from late April on I am going to be supplying you with all sorts of news about the new season you will find interesting. Once the cameras start rolling we will having production tweets and this blog will have all lots of advance information, photos, videos and news.

You'll notice that from the premiere broadcast date until wrap there are a little over two months when episodes are being filmed and broadcast at the same time. Then you will really be getting info.

So make sure you come here every Thursday to catch up on what is happening.

2) Are the cast all returning?
Yes, all the lead actors will be coming back.

3) Is Amber Marshall really pregnant?
No. Amber is a lot like Amy, but she is not Amy. Heartland is a scripted series. Chris Potter (Tim) wasn't really shot in season 2, Shaun Johnston (Jack) didn't have a heart attack at the end of season 6 and Amber wasn't blind for two weeks in season 7. And no, she is not pregnant. :)

4) When will the DVD set for season 9 be available?
No firm date set, but traditionally (you can use the word "traditionally" when you've been around a decade) the previous season's DVD set is released in Canada right about the time the upcoming season premieres, so that will be sometime near the middle to late September. I will make a big deal of it here and on all our social media pages.

5) When will season 9 be up on Netflix?
The first thing you have to know is that because of licensing agreements each of the 130+ countries that have Netflix has a different set of series, movies and programs. And I am sorry but I can't follow and track down each Netflix around the world. I can tell you that in Canada season 9 could be added to Netflix Canada as early as the beginning of May. In the US, where Netflix has up to season 6 available, I have been told that season 7 will be added sometime this summer (I have heard/read between June and September) and season 8 in 2017. The best thing for you to do is contact your Netflix affiliate in your country and ask them; they will have better information than I.

6) What about a broadcaster in the United States?
I am going to give you the history of Heartland in the US, to help you better understand the current difficulty in finding a new broadcaster.

First please understand that the CBC only holds the Canadian rights to Heartland and by the terms of their license agreement cannot allow their player to stream it outside of Canada. This is not unusual. For example, if you are in Canada and went to NBC's website, looking to stream some of that network's series you would not be able to. It is called geoblocking, and it is done to not hamper foreign (international) sales.

When Heartland started broadcasting in Canada in season 1, no American station could be found, partially because season 1 was only 13 episodes and there was no guarantee the series would be renewed. Then after season 2 was greenlit it was made available in the US again and many stations, including a lot of the CW network, agreed to play it. Sadly, although it did well in some markets, some stations decided to broadcast it at unusual hours, like 2:00am on a Saturday night/Sunday morning. Heartland was looking for a broadcaster who would properly promote and market it as a show for the whole family, so when GMCtv (Now UPtv) agreed to pay the series the care and attention it deserved in exchange for exclusivity, they became the sole broadcaster in the US.

So the first window of Heartland in the US was on GMCtv (I will just refer to them as UP from here on) and they aired the series on Wednesday evenings and not only did a good job of promoting it, they did a great job of catching up to the CBC. When they started, UP was four seasons behind, and last year they aired season 8, finishing in the summer. So kudos to UP for catching up.

However, as most of you American Heartlanders are aware,UP has decided to not broadcast season 9. This is their right and so the problem facing Heartland's sales agent is how to convince another station to play a series which has had its first eight seasons air on another US network. A network that only plays first run product is not likely to want to air the first eight seasons, yet no station or network wants to start broadcasting a series beginning with the 9th season.

So you can see the conundrum. But rest assured there will be a solution, and as soon as one is found I will let everyone know i here.

As for Netflix, which I addressed earlier, they will eventually air all seasons of Heartland; there is however no firm timetable.

7) What about other countries?
This is the official website for Heartland on CBC, not just of Heartland, and CBC - a national network in Canada - cannot track all international broadcasters of all of its program, including Heartland, which is licensed in 119 countries (130, if we include Netflix). So as much as I would like to pass on this information, it is too much for this page to handle. I suggest you ask your local stations that you have seen Heartland on and you will probably get an answer that will help you.

8) Pirate and scam sites
Some of you are finding Heartland on pirate sites. These are sites that look official but are broadcasting Heartland illegally, making money off their ads yet paying no license fee for the right to broadcast the series. Please understand that the producers (and proper broadcasters who pay to air Heartland) frown on these websites and will not allow links to them to be posted on official Heartland on CBC pages - here, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If they go up they will be deleted. I realize some of you think you are being helpful and you don't realize these sites are illegal, but if a site was legitimate (and certainly if it was available in the US) I would post it.

And please, under no circumstances give personal information, including credit card numbers to any site that claims to have episodes of Heartland that you can watch. There are several scam sites that don't even have access to Heartland episodes; they just want to tap your accounts. Be smart and never give them your personal information.

And remember, thank you for not posting names and links of sites that carry Heartland on official Heartland pages.It is most appreciated.

That's about all the major questions I have been asked multiple times this past week.

Next week I will be back with some photos from season 9 which you've not yet seen. And I will have some very interesting news for y'all.

Until then I remain, as always, obediently yours.