Degrassi close to syndication following NATPE (Playback Magazine)

by: Lianne Stewart Feb 5, 2007 Print Share email this article

Following last month’s NATPE convention in Las Vegas, Degrassi: The Next Generation is just 10% away from its goal of reaching U.S. syndication by September.

The half-hour teen drama was sold in a number of mid-market territories including WMOR in Tampa, FL, during the annual convention, via deals struck by Vancouver’s Thunderbird Films and its American cohort Program Partners. A program is not technically considered to be syndicated until it has 80% coverage of the U.S. market’s 210 territories, according to rules laid down by advertisers.

“There’s a lot of work to get the smaller markets into the schedules because your first 70% is focused on the key markets like New York, Chicago and L.A.,” says Thunderbird president Michael Shepard, who pitched the Epitome Pictures show from a hotel suite during the three-day market. “We had all sorts of buyers coming through. It felt busy last year, but it was very, very busy this year.”

Before NATPE, Tribune Broadcasting committed to daily strip the series on all of its 23 stations. Thunderbird’s focus is now on cities such as Little Rock, Honolulu and Spokane.

Degrassi is expected to hit syndication. The series is the top-rated program on Nickelodeon’s teen-targeted The N and Thunderbird cleared 98% of the U.S. syndie market with Da Vinci’s Inquest two years ago after arriving at NATPE with no deals in place. “The success of Da Vinci really paved the way for Degrassi,” says Thunderbird cofounder Tim Gamble.

Thunderbird is also working to secure time for the science drama ReGenesis, which it recently added to its roster. The company also reps titles including Intelligence, Cold Squad and Stone Undercover.

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