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Degrassi case study: multi platform, transmedia, convergent, social, mobile - what hasn't Degrassi done?


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Produced by Epitome Pictures, this Canadian multi-generational drama has an audience that spans 30+ years. Case study created by Siobhan O'Flynn

As technology has evolved, so have the show’s strategies for reaching out to fans & for creating an immersive online experience.

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Degrassi case study: multi platform, transmedia, convergent, social, mobile - what hasn't Degrassi done?

  1. 1. Degrassi Canadian Transmedia Storyworld: launched 1979 - ongoing GO
  2. 2. DEGRASSI: FRANCHISE degrassi The Next Generation ! The Kids of degrassi degrassi High degrassi Junior High 1 2 3 4 1979-1986 1987-1989 1989-1991 2001-….
  3. 3. Why?? Social social social… long before ‘social.’
  4. 4. ! This Canadian multi-generational drama has an audience that spans 30+ years. ! As technology has evolved, so have the show’s strategies for reaching out to fans & for creating an immersive online experience. ! ! Multiplatform Transmedia Convergent….
  5. 5. DEGRASSI: SERIES 1 ! The Kids of degrassi Created by Linda Schuyler ! Aired originally on CBC ! The series followed the lives of a group of Elementary School children living on Degrassi Street in Toronto and ended when the kids had finished Grade 6 ! It began as a short film adapted from a children’s book, Ida Makes a Movie (1979), though the children’s book had anthropomorphic cat characters. 1 1979-1986
  6. 6. ! The Kids of degrassi 1 1979-1986 SOCIAL BEFORE ‘SOCIAL’
  7. 7. DEGRASSI: SERIES 1 ! The Kids of degrassi ! 4 short movies were made in total, airing as after-school specials Cookie Goes to the Hospital, (1980) Irene Moves In (1981) and Noel Buys a Suit (1982) ! 3 TV episodes aired 1983 ! 5 TV episodes aired 1984 ! “The Kids of Degrassi Street featured many of the same actors who would later appear on Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High, including Stacie Mistysyn (Caitlin), Neil Hope (Wheels), Anais Granofsky (Lucy), and others. However, their character names and families were all different.” 1 1979-1986
  8. 8. DEGRASSI: SERIES 2 Producers Linda Schuyler & Kit Hood, Playing With Time, Inc - now Epitome degrassi ! Junior High ! Beloved, groud-breaking Canadian CBC TV Teen Drama The series followed the lives of a group at fictional Degrassi High School in 3 Seasons & 42 Episodes ! ! 2 ! ! Degrassi Junior High won an International Emmy in 1987 in the Children and Young People category for the episode "It's Late” dealing with teen pregnancy. The baby, Emma, would become a lead in Degrassi: The Next Generation The BBC aired Season 1 of DJH. CBBC aired 9of the 13 episodes. ! UK Gold played Degrassi JH daily from its launch in Nov. 1992 ! 1987-1989 Degrassi JH was broadcast on PBS in the US, in Australia on ABC TV and in France as "Les années collège,”
  9. 9. grassi NARRATIVE DEGRASSI: series 2 degrassi: SERIES 2 EXTENSIONS degrassi Junior High 1987-1989 Books go deeper into the story lines of specific characters, using content from the episodes & adding original content. A number of Titles now in reissues
  10. 10. DEGRASSI: SERIES 3 degrassi High 3 1987-1989 ! Degrassi High ran for 2 seasons with 28 episodes ! The series, Kids of Degrassi Street, Degrassi Junior High, and Degrassi High have won two international Emmys, 9 Gemini Awards, two Prix Jeunesse and countless other honours from festivals around the world. ! “Degrassi's School's Out! 1992 Breaks 2 Million School's Out!, the bittersweet finale to the three award winning Degrassi television series, captured an audience of 2.325 million Canadian viewers. The number is almost double the average audience that the Degrassi High series enjoyed during it's run on the CBC.” !
  11. 11. DEGRASSI: DEGRASSI: series 2 degrassi: SERIES 2 DOCUMENTARY SERIES degrassi TALKS doc 1992 ! Aired on CBC February to March 1992 ! A sequel to the popular Degrassi series of television shows, Degrassi Talks was a six-episode documentary series featuring popular Degrassi actors discussing health and social issues with teenaged audiences. Each episode was hosted by one Degrassi actor, although Stefan Brogan (Snake) & other actors participated in the series as well. ! ! ! Episode list ! Sex – hosted by Amanda Stepto Alcohol – hosted by Neil Hope Abuse – hosted by Rebecca Haines Drugs – hosted by Siluck Saysanasay Sexuality – hosted by Stacie Mistysyn Depression – hosted by Pat Mastroianni !
  12. 12. DEGRASSI: series 2 degrassi: SERIES 4 2 degrassi The Next Generation 4 2001… ! Premiered on CTV October 14, 2001 ! The series has won numerous awards, from the Geminis, Writers Guild of Canada and Directors Guild of Canada, and internationally from the Teen Choice Awards, Young Artist Awards, and Prix Jeunesse. Filmmakers/actors Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes are super fans of the show, and have guest starred in seven episodes. ! Highest rated digital cable show in 2006, on The N ! In Season 9, 2010, the series moved to CTV's youthoriented sister channel, MuchMusic. The production style shifted to become a telenovela, a daily soap opera. The first half of season 12 aired 20 episodes in its first five weeks, and premiered on July 16, 2012. 307 episodes have aired as of January 4, 2013, ! Since 2001, Degrassi TNG has sold in over 150 countries. That beats Dallas - seen in almost 100 countries !
  13. 13. degrassi The Next Generation Was your project conceived from the beginning as a multi-platform/transmedia project? ‘The original working title in 2000 was “Ready, Willing and Wired,” which was about teenagers trying to deal ‘growing up’ & the challenges of the wired world. Though the series ended up shifting to become Degrassi the Next Generation, the importance of technology was always part of the storytelling & community engagement in some way! Degrassi TNG changed to become “Degrassi.” Over the past 12-13 years of this current series, we’ve created multiple different multi-platform experiences- from, to Degrassi Mobile Game, to Degrassi’s character roleplaying accounts, & Degrassi’s social media presence on Twitter, Tumblr, FB, and Google+. The Digital Development process was not really formalized until 2009-2010 (Season 9 & 10) of the series, when the Canadian Television Fund made changes to become the Canadian Media Fund - when formalized digital elements were a requirement for production.’ ! Abby Ho, Director, Digital & Social Media Epitome Pictures, 2009-2013
  14. 14. degrassi The Next Generation MULTIPLATFORM STRATEGY ‘There is definitely a story that is told across platforms. We try to split our community to two broad groups: fictional, and behind the scenes. For the fictional elements, we like to continue the story seen in broadcast to Twitter, where each of the 25 principal characters has their own account and are able to talk about their lives as if the Degrassi world was real! We have also done direct mentions and connected the storylines from broadcast to utilize these online accounts as seen in the Season 12 “Stuff Clare Says” storyline and many other direct references to the extended Degrassi stories. ! Abby Ho
  15. 15. degrassi MULTIPLATFORM STRATEGY ! ! ‘Each season we begin with a proposal for the digital initiatives and a timeline that follows closely with the broadcast. Almost all projects run into little hiccups, delays, or changes, but the beauty of creating content and distributing it online allows for instant feedback. We can make adjustments in real time, or ask for feedback on how to improve. We watch for fan reaction as an indicator to how we should be allocating our resources as well! If something isn’t gaining the momentum we thought, we adjust!’ Abby Ho
  16. 16. degrassi MULTIPLATFORM STRATEGY Over 9 points of entry: - - - Degrassi Mobile Game ios - Degrassi Chat ios - (@Degrassi) - Facebook (Degrassi Epitome) - Tumblr (Degrassi.tumblr) - Google+ ( - Youtube ( ! For our social media accounts, we maintained content daily and for our broadcaster sites, they are maintained by our broadcasters. Our mobile initiatives are created in tandem with our broadcast seasons. ! Abby Ho
  17. 17. degrassi GOOGLE+
  18. 18. degrassi SOCIAL SURPRISES Q. Have you found more success on a given social media platform than any other? ! A. We have been very surprised with the success we’ve had in the very short time on Google+! In a little under 2 months, we were already at 170K +1’s, now over 310,000 +1s. ! Our cast and producers really enjoy using Twitter. Whether or not it’s been a ‘successful’ investment, that’s difficult to measure, but they love tweeting to their fans and getting instant feedback…it’s very gratifying for them. ! Abby Ho
  19. 19. degrassi TWITTER ACCOUNTS
  20. 20. degrassi What kind of prompts or calls to action did you design to draw your audience across platforms? We try to cross promote as much as we can. We link to link up character tweets to our tumblr page, where we post ‘art work’ that refers to something that might be ‘real’ in the Degrassi world. For example our character Mo, was holding band auditions and posted a photo and mentioned he had ‘tweeted it’ in the episode. Therefore, we had his character post the tweet and link to the image on our tumblr page! Therefore, it goes full circle. We do this in various different ways across platforms.! Abby Ho
  21. 21. degrassi AUDIENCE Q. How did you determine who your audience was? Did your audience change? A. Our audience has continued to evolve. Our show is very unique, as we have been on air for over 12 years (in its current form) and over 30 years from Kids of Degrassi Street/ Degrassi Junior High etc. So we have audiences that range from 14- 40+. ! Q. How did you reach out to your audience? A. We started at a very grassroots level. We reached out to bloggers, and the top Degrassi community curatorsfrom fanfiction sites to fan forums to Degrassi bloggers and contributors. Then we started connecting one on one with them from a marketing/ communications level! We also reach out to our fans through our broadcasters. Abby Ho
  22. 22. degrassi DEGRASSI SUPER FAN Fan Blog & News Hub Twitter Account 4,000+ followers YouTube Channel The Degrassi Extra ! ! ! !
  23. 23. degrassi The Next Generation DEGRASSI SUPER FAN Kevin Smith, American director, guest starred in three episode arc with Jason Mewes in Season 4, 2005. Released as DVD as Jay and Silent Bob Do Degrassi the Next Generation ! Both appeared in two more episodes the following season, when they returned to Degrassi for the Toronto premiere of a fictional movie, Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh!. ! ! ! !
  24. 24. degrassi FAN ENGAGEMENT Currently, Degrassi has over 1.6 million fans across our network. But we also have 3.2 million likes that have been accumulated by TeenNick’s Degrassi fan page! ! Over 3,500,000 likes on the Facebook page ! The Youtube Channel has over 2000 subscribers & 440,000 views ! The Degrassi fanfiction archive has over 16122 stories. the fan fiction community on Wattpad is also thriving. ! Abby Ho
  25. 25. degrassi FAN YOUTUBE CHANNELS Fan run Youtube Channel ACESonline3 4,917 subscribers 5,947,799 views ! ! ! ! ! Joined Sep 19, 2009
  26. 26. degrassi DEGRASSI WIKI Q. How big is your team? Are you working in partnership with others as collaborators? or are you working with a ‘hired’ top-down model? A. Our digital media team internally is 2 people- myself and a co-ordinator. However, we work closely with a marketing team which gives us a grand total of 4 people that are available to help out when needed. We also have threevendors that we are working with right nowBitHeads, Badgeville and Mobovivo. ! Q. What tips would you offer on how to communicate your vision to different partners or team members? A. Always use visuals. Illustrate ideas. Infographics or flow charts that explain the vision are very helpful.
  27. 27. degrassi SEASON 9-12: SOCIAL STRATEGY “Over the past few years, we have found interesting ways to integrate social into the overall storytelling in the series. Degrassi is a unique series in that there are over 20 different principal characters and not all characters are seen in every episode. So, in Season 9, we created official character role-playing accounts, which would keep the storytelling alive between broadcast and between character arcs. We like to think of it as the producer and writer’s take on the very popular fan fiction community that had arisen from our series. We have also found new ways to integrate the fictional character accounts into the broadcast itself. In our summer Season 12 episodes, we featured a storyline around a trending topic and the character account @TrueClare and as the season goes on, we’ll find that the social communities on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook (or as we call it, FaceRange) on the series, will play a large part in the story.” ! Stephen Stohn, Executive Producer of Degrassi & President of Epitome Pictures Inc Source:
  28. 28. degrassi SEASON 11: MOBILE GAME IOS ‘The Degrassi Mobile game was a 6 episode “choose your own conversation” adventure game, where you can interact with the characters and trigger different endings. Based on gender, orientation, and the way you chose to interact with individual characters, would determine your ending! This type of nuance is something that we were able to do that stayed true to our brand, our fans, and was an authentic social TV experience.’ Stephen Stohn, Executive Producer of Degrassi & President of Epitome Pictures Inc. Source: ! ! !
  29. 29. degrassi SEASON 11: MOBILE GAME IOS
  30. 30. degrassi SEASON 12: SOCIAL STRATEGY “It is not really about ‘outdoing’ or competing against shows with similar demographics…it’s about finding a social TV component and experience that suits the brand, the storytelling, and the fan base. Ultimately, a social TV extension needs to be authentic to the core values of the series. Degrassi is about inclusivity, community, and the high school experience. We find ways to keep that at the center of all our efforts, from the very beginning when we created in 2000- an interactive web community where fans could interact with characters, have their own virtual locker and chat on forums about topic issues that they were face.” ! ! Stephen Stohn, Executive Producer of Degrassi & President of Epitome Pictures Inc. Source:
  31. 31. degrassi DEGRASSI TUMBLR
  32. 32. degrassi The Next degrassi Generation DEGRASSI TV Social TV Strategy ! ! is an interactive web community where fans can interact with characters, have their own virtual locker & chat on forums about topic issues that they were face. ! “The Degrassi Social TV Strategy for season 12 is to develop a digital dashboard that rewards interactions with Degrassi properties – broadcast, online streaming, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Google+, the Degrassi Web site on MuchMusic (our broadcaster in Canada) & our Degrassi mobile game in realtime. The connectivity between all the digital offerings will enhance the value of fan engagement and the brand. The dashboard will track points gained through engaging with the broadcast (i.e. live tweeting the show), and online properties (i.e. reblogging photos from the official account, sharing Degrassi blogs from ! The Degrassi dashboard will be hosted on Degrassi and the Degrassi Chat App. The dashboard will act as a hub to connect all existing Degrassi properties, while providing rewards and points for engagement. ! Stephen Stohn, Executive Producer of Degrassi & President of Epitome Pictures Inc.
  33. 33. degrassi SEASON 12: SOCIAL STRATEGY
  34. 34. degrassi SOCIAL STRATEGY: COMMUNITY Degrassi Mobile game in season 11 had monthly downloadable episodes in app! ! Abby Ho, Digital & Emerging Media Strategist
  35. 35. SOCIAL: SEASON 12B 2012
  36. 36. degrassi DEGRASSI MOBILE CHAT Degrassi Chat was launched August 2012 “to facilitate a true co-viewing experience.” ! Epitome Pictures CEO and show exec producer, Stephen Stohn, describes the app “with Degrassi Chat, fans can create highquality autographed photos of the cast, even while watching the show.” ! Abby Ho, “users receive points within the app for checking-in, sharing, and are able to view their MuchCloser Dashboard when they rotate their screen’s landscape….We wanted to make the Chat App the remote for all Degrassi online and a large part of that, was connecting it to the loyalty program.”
  37. 37. degrassi DEGRASSI MOBILE CHAT ! “We see it as a very valuable application that drives interaction around the ‘live’ broadcast, and engagement around the show between episodes. This engagement is very valuable to our broadcasters and our loyal fans. We see our fan engagement as a way for us to continue the conversation and keep the themes around the show alive between broadcast.” ! “It is community that makes the Degrassi brand resonate, and we continue to build engagement on new platforms. It is this continued conversation and authentic transparency we have with all our online properties that gives our audience various touch points to our brand.” Abby Ho. ! ! Source:
  38. 38. degrassi DEGRASSI MOBILE CHAT Source:
  39. 39. degrassi The Next degrassi Generation DEGRASSI MOBILE CHAT Degrassi Chat was developed for Epitome Pictures by Ottawa mobile app developer Bitheads using what’s known as an application programming interface (API) built by Mobovivo, a second-screen video distribution company based in Alberta. ! The API was made using Mobovivo’s StayTuned platform, which Mobovivo said in a statement allows for easier integration with TV companion apps. ! “TV audiences are using their smartphones and tablets while watching TV. That’s a business reality for producers,” says Mobovivo founder and CEO, Trevor Doerksen. ! Source:
  40. 40. degrassi FAN ENGAGEMENT 2013 ! The Zit Remedy only wrote one song, but they’re practically as revered a Canadian musical institution as Neil Young, the Tragically Hip, and the “Log Driver’s Waltz.” “Everybody Wants Something” is the finest (only?) musical creation by Degrassi‘s beloved Joey Jeremiah, Snake, and Wheels (RIP), and it became Degrassi‘s most iconic musical gift—or discounting Drake, its most iconic fictional gift—but it also became a cherished symbol of our national adolescence, musical amateurism, and half-assed juvenile bands. It’s arguably more important than the larger-than-life Gourmet Scum, Dwayne Myers’s Asia t-shirt, and Degrassi High‘s killer theme (which was once covered by incredible ’90s Toronto teen-punk band Eww… You’re a Girl and Girls Suck). ! So, in honour of the Zit Remedy (and The Zits, as they’d later be called), here are 17 interpretations of “Everybody Wants Something.”
  41. 41. degrassi The Next degrassi Generation PRODUCTION TEAM Q. How big is your team? Are you working in partnership with others as collaborators? or are you working with a ‘hired’ top-down model? A. Our digital media team internally is 2 people- myself and a co-ordinator. However, we work closely with a marketing team which gives us a grand total of 4 people that are available to help out when needed. We also have threevendors that we are working with right nowBitHeads, Badgeville and Mobovivo. ! Q. What tips would you offer on how to communicate your vision to different partners or team members? A. Always use visuals. Illustrate ideas. Infographics or flow charts that explain the vision are very helpful. ! Abby Ho
  42. 42. degrassi The Next degrassi Generation DIGITAL PRODUCTION Q. How did creating for many different platforms or screens differ from producing for film and/or tv? what tips would you offer? ! A. Things are very iterative in digital development. It is all about constant updates and fixing bugs as they arise. It is a bit different than with TV production because it is less linear and more volatile. For tips, I think that digital development does require lots of business structure. You need to have clear budgets cause things can spiral out of control very very quickly with change requests or fixes that are out of scope. Also, one important tip is learning about your audience. It doesn’t matter if you are creating the most technologically advanced property if your audience hates using that particular device or site, or whatever you are creating. Be specific to the demographic you are reaching out to. For our Degrassi projects, we like to be create customizable experiences for our fans. Where they can choose which pieces of our social and online experience they want to participate in…it’s always an a la carte feeling. ! Abby Ho
  43. 43. degrassi The Next degrassi Generation COMMUNITY MANAGER? Q. Did you use a community manager? what kind of time commitment did that become? ! A. I started as the only ‘digital’ team member…so I did strategy, financing, all the business & the execution (community management). Resources are always very tight, so yes it was a very big time commitment. It depends on the broadcast timeline- so in the summer the time commitment is very high- with episodes airing nightly. We live tweet all events, so it is very time consuming when we are on TV, and this summer we had two shows, so it would be very chaotic. ! ! Abby Ho
  44. 44. degrassi The Next degrassi Generation BUSINESS PLAN & REVENUE Q. What is your business plan? Did you have a clear idea of what you were going to do? or has it evolved? A. Our business plan has always been to engage and connect with our fans and create a community- that reacts and is highly involved in the content. We are now creating Degrassi network that connects all fans to a hub- which we hope with me a Youtube channel. It is always a slow process, building the pieces that will then lead to a path toward monetization. Ultimately, the stronger the community, the more opportunities for sponsorship, advertising, or subscriptions etc. We have a general plan but it has constantly evolved as we learn more about our community and their behaviours. ! Q. What is generating revenue? have you any merchandizing? A. We generate revenue through online distribution, itunes sales, merchandise, and our mobile game sales. ! Abby Ho
  45. 45. degrassi DEGRASSI DID IT FIRST! Adam Torres was the first scripted teen transgender character in television history. ! Snake and Caitlin were the only ones to use the word "fucking" on Degrassi, and they were the first ones to use it in Canadian television history. ! ! ! According to the DVD commentary, The episode "Secret" was the first use of the word "blow job" (as said by Jay Hogart) on any Viacom owned network, owner of MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central. ! source:
  47. 47. big thanks to Abby Ho!
  48. 48. Get in Touch contactus TMC Resource Kit The Degrassi Case Study was prepared by: Dr. Siobhan O’Flynn @Sioflynn
  49. 49. tmcrkpartners thanks to...
  50. 50. The Degrassi Case Study is released under a NonCommercial ShareAlike Creative Commons license to be shared, remixed and expanded non--commercially, as long as you credit: ! The TMC Resource Kit, the creator of the Case Study, Anthea Foyer or Dr. Siobhan O’Flynn, & license your new creations under the identical terms. !
  51. 51. resources ! ! ! ! ! television-general/the-degrassi-approach-to-childrens-drama.html ! ! !