US Syndication sales for Degrassi: The Next Generation

From Thunderbird Films:

CTV’s Hit Original Drama Tops 60% Clearance for September 2007 Launch

Thunderbird Films and its U.S. distribution partners, Program Partners, today announced several major U.S. market and station group clearances for CTV’s acclaimed original dramatic series, Degrassi: The Next Generation. These deals take the hit half-hour series past the 60% mark including all 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. This news follows closely on the heels of the two companies’ successful U.S. launches of Canadian dramas Da Vinci’s Inquest, Cold Squad and Stone Undercover into weekly syndication.

The Degrassi launch is anchored by a Tribune Broadcasting group-wide commitment, with additional clearances from stations in the Belo, Clear Channel, Granite, Gray, Hubbard, and Pegasus groups and The CW PLUS stations.

“We are thrilled to have such an honored Canadian series receive such enthusiastic support from U.S. broadcasters,” commented Michael Shepard, President, Thunderbird Films. “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.”

Degrassi: The Next Generation, is a provocative and relevant dramatic series that entertains while it tackles difficult issues in a realistic way. Degrassi introduces a new generation of students going through the trials and tribulations of youth in the 21st century at the newly refurbished Degrassi Community School. The series follows Emma (Miriam McDonald), Manny (Cassie Steele), Jimmy (Aubrey Graham), Alex (Deanna Casaluce), Liberty (Sarah Barrable-Tishauer), Spinner (Shane Kippel), Toby (Jake Goldsbie), J.T. (Ryan Cooley), Paige (Lauren Collins), Ellie (Stacey Farber), Marco (Adamo Ruggiero), Craig (Jake Epstein) and Jay (Mike Lobel). In season 5 they are joined by Darcy (Shenae Grimes) and Peter (Jamie Johnston) as they journey through high school, and for some characters, eventually experience life post-Degrassi.

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. Launched to critical acclaim in Fall 2001 by CTV, Degrassi: The Next Generation scored high marks with Canadian viewers, and quickly emerged as Canada’s top-ranked homegrown drama.

In Canada, the sixth and most current season of Degrassi is currently airing on CTV, and follows on the heels of a landmark fifth season that marked a number of firsts for the popular series: its 25th anniversary, its 100th episode, 24 per cent audience growth and breaking the one million viewer mark. 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,” all while scoring high marks from trade and consumer publications from Time, TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly to New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. In the U.S., Degrassi is the flagship series for cable channel The N and is also embraced around the world, having been successfully licensed in over 150 countries, including France, Switzerland, and Australia.

Always on the cutting edge of entertainment, the series also boasts multi-platform brand extensions through publishing, broadband, music CD’s, promotional tours and more. 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.

Program Partners is marketing Degrassi: The Next Generation as an outgrowth of its overall distribution agreement with Thunderbird Films.