After 11 years underwater, Silvergate’s Octonauts are coming ashore in a new 78 x 22-minute, CG-animated Netflix series. The move follows increased social media demand for new episodes, a pair of successful specials, and a strategy shift to reach a new audience.
It’s a lot of change for Octonauts, which premiered on CBeebies in 2010.
To start, Octonauts: Above & Beyond will debut in September 2021 for a whole new group of preschoolers, as the kids who watched its initial four-season run have since outgrown it. This new generation likely found the show on Netflix, which licensed the series in 2016, or via two specials that were released exclusively on the SVOD. But today’s preschoolers—and their parents—want more education, a greater focus on climate change, and something fresh and exciting.
“Preschoolers are used to having [so much] choice in content that they’re becoming less open to sticking with the same episodes than they might have been in the good old days of pure linear TV,” says Lisa Macdonald, Silvergate’s SVP of consumer products and TV sales for North America, EMEA, Australia & New Zealand.
New content will continue to roll out on Netflix until 2024, following several characters from past seasons and some new Octo-agents on land missions. The core tenet of the crew remains the same—to rescue and protect fellow creatures.
While the original series focused heavily on the three main Octonauts, the new series broadens its primary cast to 10, giving the producers freedom to pair different characters and open up new storytelling possibilities, says supervising producer Lacey Stanton.
With the show’s DNA steeped in underwater adventures, bringing the series to dry land might not have been an obvious choice. But it gave the creators a greater variety of animals for the Octo-agents to help, which increased the number of environmental angles the show could tackle.
Coming up for air posed several challenges, however, including forcing a redesign of the show’s submarine vehicles and home base. But this shift provides more opportunities for toys, which new master toy partner Moose Toys plans to start rolling out in 2022. Fans should also be on the lookout for new publishing ranges and stage shows.
Octonauts is already very popular in China (where Netflix is currently not available), so broadcast and L&M partners are being lined up in the region for the spinoff, though there was nothing concrete to announce at press time.
A large social media fervor around the series helped encourage Silvergate to create new episodes, Macdonald says. So it’s only fitting that when the spinoff launches, the prodco plans on letting fans know via influencer campaigns and digital marketing efforts.
Even though Netflix has been a part of the success of the show for the last six years, it won’t be the only place where people can watch the new series, says Macdonald. Silvergate is in conversations with several of its original broadcast partners to bring Above & Beyond to linear TV, though discussions are still ongoing.
“We know the appetite is there, and the focus on the natural world plays on a growing awareness about how we need to care for and protect [the environment],” says Macdonald. “Applying that to land means we can continue to speak to kids and parents who have that curiosity.”