The distributors of Degrassi: The Next Generation have announced a deal that will see the hit half-hour series syndicated — five days a week — in 60 per cent of the top U.S. television markets.
The deal includes airings of the popular Canadian teen series in 5 of the Top 5 markets, 8 of the Top 10, with 15 of the Top 20 and 18 of the Top 25 for its launch as a syndication strip for Fall 2007.
The sixth and most current season of Degrassi: The Next Generation is currently airing on CTV, where it recently drew 1 million viewers.
The show is a successor to the earlier series beginning in the 1980s: Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High. All were produced in Canada but also aired in the U.S. on PBS, where especially Degrassi Junior High became a cult hit.
The announcement, from Thunderbird Films and its U.S. distribution partners, Program Partners, follows closely on the heels of the two companies’ U.S. launches of Canadian dramas Da Vinci’s Inquest, Cold Squad and Stone Undercover into weekly syndication.
“We are thrilled to have such an honored Canadian series receive such enthusiastic support from U.S. broadcasters,” Michael Shepard, President, Thunderbird Films, said in a news release. “It confirms the production quality and universal appeal of Canadian product in the world market.”
“Degrassi is clearly striking a chord with U.S. broadcasters,” said Josh Raphaelson of Program Partners. “The series is widely admired and has a proven track record. It is exactly what these stations need for 2007.”
“Degrassi in the major U.S. markets; it’s another great Canadian success story,” said Susanne Boyce, President of Programming for CTV and Chair of the CTV Media Group. “We’re extremely proud of the series and the creative team that continues to push new boundaries.”
Produced by Epitome Pictures in Toronto, the series is based on a 25-year legacy that began with executive producer and co-creator Linda Schuyler. The current series follows a new generation of students at the Degrassi Community School.
Previously a winner of an International Emmy, in 2005 the series beat out four American programs at the Television Critics Association Awards for “Outstanding Achievement in Children’s Programming” and took home the coveted surf board for its Teen Choice Award win for “Choice Summer Series.”
The series is also featured in books, broadband and music CDs. Highlights include the recently released Degrassi: Extra Credit, a multiple-volume series of graphic novels that expand on Degrassi plotlines, exclusive online content consisting of scripted webisodes, 19 behind-the-scenes documentaries and two animated shorts (a.k.a. “Degrassi Mangasodes”) along with a compilation CD “Songs From Degrassi”, “Degrassi: Generations” (a slick book filled with facts and photos) and promotional tours across Canada and U.S. cities that are flocked to by thousands.