The Super Rugby season will begin a week early for four Australian sides next season to cater for the British and Irish Lions tour later in the year.
The Melbourne Rebels and the Western Force kick off a truncated round one in Melbourne on Friday, February 15, with the ACT Brumbies meeting the Queensland Reds in Canberra a day later.
Four of the New Zealand franchises start their campaigns with derby action the following weekend, with defending champions the Chiefs facing the Highlanders in Dunedin in a Friday night clash.
The Hurricanes and the Blues, under new coach Sir John Kirwan, are in action the following night in Wellington.
The Crusaders have a bye, so won't get their season under way until they travel to Auckland to take on the Blues on Friday, March 1.
As was the case this year, the draw includes a three-week break in June, when the All Blacks will be in action in a three-Test series against France.
Because the Lions tour of Australia involves Tests on different days to the normal June in-bound schedules, there will be two other shortened rounds.
Round 17 beginning on June 7 will feature only Australian teams, while round 19 starting on July 5 will have only New Zealand and South African teams in action.
The play-offs begin on the weekend of July 19, with the final scheduled for August 3.