With iTunes only offering audio content to residents of the Great White North, tween/teen fave Degrassi: The Next Generation is breaking new ground in the country. The series has become the first TV program to be made available on a pay-per-download basis in Canada through Puretracks.com.
‘It’s hard to deny that the Degrassi franchise is something of a Canadian institution at this point, and I think it’s quite fitting that it would be the first show available via this distribution method to Canadians,’ says Chris Jackson, director of digital media and merchandising for Toronto producer Epitome Pictures.
After less than a couple of weeks on the Puretracks site, it’s too early to measure response to the offering, according to CEO Alistair Mitchell, but he says being the first to offer Canadians downloadable TV is an important watershed for Puretracks, which started in 2003 as a music service. ‘It just made an immense amount of sense for us to be able to include other types of digital entertainment content,’ he says.
Mitchell says Puretracks approached Epitome and broadcaster CTV partially because of the show’s wide appeal – especially among the coveted teen demo – but also because it’s a homegrown hit. ‘We wanted to begin with Degrassi mostly because we’re a Canadian company ourselves and we looked for content that struck a chord with us,’ he says. No doubt it is also easier to work out rights issues for a Canadian series than American ones.
Degrassi has been sold into more than 150 countries for broadcast. And in the US, where it airs on The N, it has been available since September 2006 on iTunes. Within its first 10 days on the site, 14,000 episodes were downloaded.
Season three of Degrassi is currently available on Puretracks, with additional seasons expected to be offered at regular intervals starting this fall. Jackson says Epitome is also eyeing its series Instant Star for download distribution.
A version of this article first appeared in KidScreen Daily sister pub Playback Daily