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Television Class is still in session: Degrassi not ending after all

It’s like high school will never end. Just when everyone thought that the Degrassi franchise had run its course last week, DHX Media Ltd. announced Tuesday it's actually just be moving to the Family Channel and American Netflix.

Stephen Scott for Epitome Pictures/DHX Media

It's like high school will never end. Just when everyone thought that the Degrassi franchise had run its course last week, DHX Media Ltd. announced Tuesday that the longest-running dramatic television series in Canadian history would actually just be moving to the Family Channel and Netflix.

Although Degrassi (née Degrassi: The Next Generation) is ending a 14-year run on MTV, the next instalment of the franchise – Degrassi: Next Class – is set to air in January 2016. This announcement followed hundreds of articles and tweets of disbelief decrying the apparent death of Degrassi last Thursday.

"This is a reinvention, not a resurrection," said  Stephen Stohn. the president and executive producer of Epitome Pictures Inc. "[We considered] the reality of what is happening in the TV world and in Canada in particular with the CRTC announcements," added Stohn. "And we know young people are going more online [for their television]. That was when the discussion happened about the shift in broadcasters."

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In March, the Canadian broadcast regulator introduced new rules concerning pick-and-pay cable options in Canada, which will allow consumers to choose individual channels or packaged bundles by December 2016. DHX, it seems, is moving the brand to its Family Channel (a pick-and-pay station) just before these rules come into effect. Degrassi: Next Class won't land on Canadian Netflix until a later date.

"But the real story is about Generation Z," said Stohn. "We have a new audience and a wonderful opportunity."

Born after the millenials in the mid-2000s, the so-called Generation Z is the latest audience to be targeted by the Degrassi franchise, which has been chronicling the intense, adolescent adventures of Toronto high-school students since 1980. As executive producer Linda Schuyler noted in the press release Tuesday, "most of [them] weren't even born when Degrassi returned in 2001."

Stohn confirmed 12 scripts were in various stages of development, and that writers are "very excited about telling stories to and about this new generation."

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said that Degrassi: Next Class would be moving to American Netflix. In fact, the show will be moving to Netflix worldwide.

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