Dancing with the Stars has revealed its new changes for Season 31 now that it will be streaming on Disney+ instead of airing on ABC for the first time since its debut.

Dancing with the Stars has already announced the 16 celebrities and their professional partners who will be competing on the show when it premieres Monday, September 19 on Disney+.


"Moving to Disney+ is a move for the future... It's flattering and exciting to be the first of the big live, established shows to be coming over to a streamer," Dancing with the Stars executive producer Conrad Green told Entertainment Weekly.

Now that the show will be streaming instead of airing on network television, major adjustments had to be made and viewers are in for some surprises.

For starters, there will be no commercial breaks, which will present some challenges for the production team.

"We don't have all that lovely time to reset things. It makes the production super live. It means basically we've got to clear the stage in between the times when people chat and play the packages, so it's going to be a very intense choreography behind the scenes to get folks in and out, and clean the floor and those elements," Green explained to EW.

But no ad breaks means there can be longer performances, especially towards the end of the competition when fewer celebrity and professional pairings remain.

While Green said "there's a limit" to how long the dances can be because they are hard to learn and physically taxing for amateur dancers to repeat, there is "a sweet spot" between 60 to 90 seconds where they're "really entertaining."

"You see the beginning, middle and end. But as the show goes on, and there are fewer competitors in it, the dances can get a bit longer," Green teased.

When Dancing with the Stars aired on ABC, there was always another show airing right afterwards, which sometimes resulted in the two-hour broadcasts ending abruptly or cutting off prematurely.

But now that the reality dancing competition will be streaming, that won't be a problem anymore.

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"There's not another show immediately following us. It's not like there's dead air if we're a little bit under. The show can run at a slightly more natural pace," Green shared.

"The first show is going to be busy. It's going to be two hours absolutely packed full of people and stories and amazing performances. When we get into the later shows, we can let it breathe a little bit more, and we can bring back some of the elements that people have really liked."

Viewers may get to see group dances, team dances, or a dance marathon again, which allows fans to see how the cast members interact with one another.

Because there will be no commercial breaks, producers also thought it made sense to bring the skybox back, which will turn viewers eyes away from the ballroom stage.

In the skybox, interviews and conversations will be guided by Dancing with the Stars' new co-host, Alfonso Ribeiro, an actor and former Dancing with the Stars champion.

Green called the new co-host role "the biggest, biggest change" of Season 31.

"We needed a way of getting the people off the floor so that we can clear the floor because we don't have ad breaks," Green said of the skybox.

Green pointed out how "it's the spirit of the show" to have people talk, relax and decompress in their clubhouse. He said he "really missed" that aspect of the show in recent ABC seasons.

"No one's going to be better at [leading those conversations] than Alfonso... He loves the show and is passionate about it. He knows the dancers really well. He really knows what he's talking about," Green said.

"He empathizes with the celebrities [and] what they're going through."

The former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star is also close friends with returning host Tyra Banks, who previously worked on the 90s sitcom starring Will Smith.

"They have lots of chemistry. They like working together; they always have. It felt like a natural fit," Green shared. "He'll bring a warmth and human interest to it. He'll help us get to know the celebrities because we've got that extra bit of time hearing from them."

Another major change will be the show streaming live across the whole country for the first time, which means live voting for the West Coast.

"People used to be able to vote on the West Coast when we would do the reveal the next day. But when it dropped down to one reveal that night, people on the West Coast didn't vote. I'm very glad that it is now fully inclusive," Green explained.

He added, "You can tune in at five o'clock in LA, you can tune in at 8 o'clock in New York. People in Canada are able to vote now as well. It's a much broader base. And I think it will help audiences feel engaged with the show."

The show's fan-favorite "Disney Night" will also get a facelift because cast members will have more characters to choose from than ever before.

"Disney Night" is changing to "Disney+ Night," which welcomes a catalog far extending beyond the classic Disney-owned characters such as Cinderella or Snow White.

"Everything from Marvel to Disney Pixar, all of the animated films, all of their live-action films [are fair game]," Green boasted. "There's such a range. We're really looking forward to broadening out what was Disney night to Disney+ night and having a fantastic eclectic night to enjoy."

Dancing with the Stars' 31st season will also feature a Michael Buble night as well as an Elvis night, according to EW.

And finally, there will be a limited studio audience, given certain measures are still intact to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We are getting an audience back. We're trying to balance the safety of COVID while trying to also reflect the fact that people are starting to live their lives differently than they were," Green explained.

"Everyone needs to be fully vaccinated and everyone will be tested before they come in. It won't be quite as densely packed as it was in the past, but there will be an audience there."

Green said it's "really important" to have "smiling faces" and for viewers to see people reacting to the dances in front of them.

"It should feel like a special event, and it felt a little bit empty over the COVID years," Green noted.

"The team did such an amazing job putting on a great production in that time, but you always miss the people."


Conrad said production will try to strike a balance between keeping people safe and having an audience that will create energy and bring life to the ballroom.

About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.