News - Soap Buzz

31 July 9th, 2011 L.A. TIMES: Moving Soaps (AMC/OLTL) from TV to Web: Easier Said Then Done!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

The Los Angeles Times weighed in on the big announcement that sent shockwaves through the industry and fans of the soap genre late this week.  We can only be talking about the news that One Life to Live and All My Children have been given new life, when they go off network television, and will land on the Internet.  It all centers around a deal brokered by ABC and Prospect Park.  But according to the L.A. Times, the situation could be fraught with some large hurdles to overcome for it to be successful. Here are some key points below from the article on the Prospect Park- One Life to Live/All My Children online venture that are thought-provoking!

LATimes: “The economics of such a move wouldn’t be easy. Soap operas have large casts, writing staffs, producers and lots of sets. In other words, they’re not cheap. A soap can cost as much as $50 million a year to produce.

The announcement from Prospect Park — an entertainment company whose partners include former Disney executive Rich Frank that has aspirations of creating a Web entertainment giant — was very sparse on the details of how it would pull off moving the two soaps from broadcast television to the Internet.

It is also unclear who from the two soap operas is actually on board with the plan. ABC is licensing its soaps to Prospect Park, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the entire cast and crew are involved. Neither ABC or Prospect Park are commenting beyond their news release. Prospect Park will have to cut deals with the talent of the two soaps, who would probably have to take pay cuts if they want to be involved in the new versions of the shows.

Both soaps average about 2.5 million viewers, a number that may be hard to reach online. Also advertising online is not as expensive as advertising on television.  Until the Internet as a distribution system and — more important — advertising on the Internet reach parity with television, the idea of network-like programming on the Web may be a plot better left to soap operas.”

So what do you think about the issues this article raises? They bring to light many of the things that many in the industry and soap fans have been pondering with no direct answers yet since this news broke!.  Stay tuned for more updates on this developing story in the coming weeks.

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  1. Amy says:

    I am a realist and realize that a move like this would involve some loss but I will say as far as the cast…soaps have always had an everchanging cast…always…I don’t see the same people on OLTL or AMC that I did 20 years ago for the most part and so if not everyone remains I am okay with that while I recognize that each show has staple characters that must be present for at least a couple years of the transition for the show to be viable before they can afford to lose them. I have watched soap opera lead characters change and change so I think as long as they keep some staples or put some of the actors on a recurring basis where they pop in and out..I am okay! I want a quality product with great story and imagination doesn’t cost a thing and I hope Prospect Park is passionate about both of these shows cause they have alot to offer and ABC stopped being passionate about their soaps over a decade ago.
    I will add a positive…AMC and OLTL no longer are going to exist in the confines of Daytime television so they can unleash some big realistic drama without the restrictions of airing in the daytime. I think it can be sexier and grittier so I revel in this opportunity to take Pine Valley and Lanview further than they have ever gone…I hope!!!

    Reply

    Kim Goodwin replied

    Amy I agree with you 100%. I know Agnes has told us that she is going to help Prospect Park write the stories and she knows a lot more of the details. I trust her word and I know she would never tell the fans of what is her baby (AMC) that these shows will be better than ever with the same quality and just as it is now if she knew that they couldn’t afford it. This new company could also be expanding internationally as this project has been in the works for awhile and they got a large grant to take on these shows. I think there is a lot of questions yet to be answered as they mentioned a multi platform viewing so we don’t know yet what that means. I think with having fresh hands on our shows will only make them better and as long as more and more people are able to get access to internet in their areas the better the ratings. The actors on Twitter seemed real positive with what they heard so far as I’m sure they are hearing more about affording them and details of how they are going to work. I have to have faith because of soaps were saved and I still can watch them everyday. I think the viewership is much higher than 2.5 million as the neilson ratings are not even a close guess but when you look at most watch shows during the soap hours on a Direct TV option AMC and OLTL are in 1st and 2nd through almost the whole hour beating Young and the Restless that shows on Neilson as being higher in ratings. I know Direct TV has a lot more customers watching TV than the neilson box owners so I think it is a more accurate viewership. I am thankful and happy the actors didn’t lose their jobs, that the acting programs will still have hope to get jobs in the soap industry where many go forward onto better things. Without that it limits a lot of options for striving actors. I like 5 new charactors on AMC better than the ones that were there a year ago Griff, Cara, Madison, Marissa and Scott. Shows me that change can happen and improve the show not always make it worse. In my opinion Susan Lucci can be part time and save a lot on the budget as she has many other things she does as well as AMC. They just have to get Tad to stay and I hope Kendall and the 5 new ones I like as I know Jake and Amanda were already going to leave no matter if the soaps got a new home or not. Jake was ready for a change and Amanda is as well. I am hopeful but hope the soap fans will be tracked on this online program well so a true count can be made.

    Reply

    brian replied

    yes, i would agree that more than 2.5 million watch OLTL, please find a way to include us Canadians! Look at OLTL’s ties to Canada, aka Bree Williamson, Nathan Fillion, etc…

  2. Michael Smith says:

    The question becomes: What will this new internet incarnation look like? If some pallid, amateur version of either show is the best that can be accomplished, they may be better off having a dignified finale.

    I did find a glimmer of hope in the news, but the number of questions generated and a glaring absence of answers is troubling.

    Reply

    Kim Goodwin replied

    being told that it is going to be better than ever from Agnes so I trust her. Not ABC/Disney and the fact they still have power to make them go away is scary but I just hope that they won’t. The facts are we don’t have anything but a brief blurb of what is happening. Told one hour long same quality and hopefully same charactors. Good writing with Agnes on the sidelines helping. We just have to hope nobody is being given any false hope but he actors sound happy once they had the following day to discuss with their people of more details they thanked us for fighting for them and happy the shows wern’t ending. That is promising.

    Reply

  3. liz says:

    These are the exact same things I was worried about too. I would gladly pay to watch oltl, if they continue to make it as good as it has been lately. The bully storyline really captured my heart and reminded me of a time where there were valuable lessons that could be learned from soaps. Although, anyone who sees a soap and aspires to be like that may want to consult there therapist, the social issues that they deal with are really amazing. From rape, to abuse, to bullying, they have the ability to send a profound message to a large audience. For that, it is worth it so future generations can see why I am so in love with my soaps.

    Reply

  4. Robin says:

    I’ve often wondered why soaps didn’t pare down their cast and find better writers. A lot can be done in a half hour, at a cost that may not be as exorbitant as what the hour long soaps incur.

    I miss soaps, but knew there was nothing for me to see after ATWT said goodbye. I wish people would crunch the numbers, the talent and hire some amazing writers!

    I don’t think I’d pay to watch other AMC or OLTL, but I’m thrilled for soap fans that there is hope!

    Reply

  5. Jan says:

    I truely dont know what to say, I’ve admired the work of theses people.
    Soaps are hard to do, script have to be learned fast.
    What pisses me off are actors come and go ruining storylines, having to force SOAPS
    to putting terrible storylines in their stories place.
    OLTL was the last show I real watched last October of 2010.
    STARR & COLE.

    Reply

  6. mike says:

    Soaps went to hour long formats because the cost was only a fraction more than the half hour but the profit was double. I think we all know this new venture will fail, the hope is that one or both of the shows might come back to ABC after the new “reality ” shows fail badly.While there is life, there is hope.

    Reply

    Todd Bennett replied

    Wow “Mike”. You make a statement that “I think we all know this new venture will fail”. Jeez, the announcement was JUST made…give the plan a chance. There are surely alot of details that cannot be released yet as I would think contracts must be renegotiated among alot of other details. These full plans are not going to be released until all that is finalized. So, that doesn’t mean “it’s going to fail”. The transition hasn’t even come close to happening yet. I’ve watched OLTL since almost day one (Viki was still residing with her father at Llanfair and sister, Meredith was living with new husband Larry Wolek). My earliest memory (I’m 50 now) was Meredith being home alone and the apartment being broken into, her being hit over the head with the gunman’s gun and later dying as a result of.
    I think we all should just relax and watch this pan out. If you don’t have an internet ready TV–it might be more cumbersome watching on a laptop/desktop but it can still be done. I’ll be excited to watch through my TV connection myself.

    Reply

  7. Reed says:

    I do not put much stock in what the LA Times has to say. First off, they say that both shows only average 2.5 million viewers. Where do they get this number? Well, from the ratings. Ratings which only reflect people who watch live or same day DVR viewing. This does not take into account people who watch on Soapnet, Abc.com, utube, other various third party websites, or people who simply wait til the weekend to watch the DVR recordings. The ratings system for TV is and always has been flawed, whereas the Internet “ratings” are not because an Internet web host can always gleam how many people visit a certain website and how many views a video has had. Case in point, sites like Facebook or Twitter or utube or yahoo or google charge heftier fees for their ads because of high traffic on the sites. They know how many people are visiting the sites daily. Also, while I agree that producing a televised soap opera does cost a lot of money, producing a web series does not have to because they can trim down a lot of the extra fees that come with the associtaion with television. I’m sure the cast will be trimmed down as well, which is fine anyway since not everyone is needed anyway. There are many questions that have yet to be answered, but I am confident that after the web series becomes successful, Abc will be regreting the decision they made and will be begging to put the two shows back on tv.

    Reply

    skyangel replied

    what happens to the older people in nursing homes that do not have internet they are without their shows and the people on fixed incomes it is not fair . this is so not fair to the other people we can watch our shows there are people that are going to be left out we have to fight for them

    Reply

  8. harlee says:

    I think this is wonderful news for this genre. Prospect Park is being pioneers as soaps was in the beginning. Yes, cuts will be coming but I don’t think it will be jarring and not as expensive as network television. People that has made a living by being involved rather actors, writers, producers etc.. that is a love for this genre to succeed. There are passionate people in this industry who has a deep love. As one poster suggested Amy soaps can do some amazing realistic, character driven stories, not be confined and put more grit with internet and that is what soaps do best…”what is old is new again”. If PP makes this successful adventure, ABC cleans up financially, PP could then syndicate them to cable stations, sub channels as late night entertainment for revenue……and if PP is successful, who’s say this could open the door in the future to have ALL KINDS of SERIAL DRAMA on the internet, ipods, phones, ipads, itunes, etc….PGP (TeleNext) could wake up again and say HMMMMM…they have built in advertising…built in beloved shows. I will support PP’s efforts fully….I salute you Prospect Park. This soap fan thanks you.

    Reply

    skyangel replied

    ok what about the older soap fans that have no internet ? Because they are in Nursing home or on fixed income can we just say ok we have our shows I can not just forget about them. Can we still fight for them?

    Reply

    harlee replied

    I’m older, 50 and now the shows have been saved comes well I don’t have internet? There is always a way if wanted to watch the soaps, either by grandchildren helping their elders, which they should, nursing homes (I work in dietary) have computers. The nursing home where I worked is going to install a desk top in the multi-purpose room so the residents can watch “their” shows. Listen the residents pay for nursing home services they can demand to internet. This is a flimsy excuse, just another reason to have something to complain about…..senior centers are free and have internet and offer programs and services, another way they can watch.

  9. mo says:

    I hope they thought of some of these things before the deal was made. Where will the shows be filmed? Will PP lease space from ABC to continue as is? I think if I were one of these shows and I had already made plans past cancellations or had prospects, I would go with that. Seemed like hoorah at first, but all the technical stuff is quite overwhelming. And I think the cast will really have to be pared down. Plus, I don’t know about the rest of people, my computer chair is not as comfy as my TV chair. Guess I’d really have to be a fan to watch my soap online. But good luck to everyone involved. I hope it works.

    Reply

    brian replied

    Mo, it is so easy to hook your pc to your tv, assuming you have a flat screen tv. Most have a vga input, or pc input, or an hdmi input, if it has any of these, any pc can be displayed on it.

    Reply

    Todd Bennett replied

    Correct, Brian. Even if you have your laptop on the floor…using an HDMI cable from the laptop into the TV…will basically make your TV a very large PC monitor…you still use the mouse or laptop pad to make your way to the website this will be hosted on and then once it’s playing…you watch on your TV.

    skyangel replied

    OK but what if you do not have any of that we all do but what if you lived in a nursing home or just had t.v. no internet cause you were on a fixed income alot of people do not have internet so they will be out and now we will not be able to record our shows and is this their way of getting back at us for causing a riot to put it on the internet and make us pay for it I think it is. Now they fired most of the cast on OLTL think they already had this in the works om AMC David is not staying tad is Leaving Angie is going Jake is going Erica is leaving who the heck is going to be there to do the story we knew?

  10. Amanda G says:

    While I am happy that PP had the faith in these shows to give them a chance and move them online, I am also saddened by the fact that MANY viewers will be left behind and on the day they show ends on TV is the day it ends for them, for many different reason. It’s great for the ones that have internet access. But many rural areas are still dial up coverage. I know in the area I live over a year ago that was my only way to get online was Dial up. I also worked in a nursing home in which many would want to go back to their rooms to watch the shows or was bed bound and that was all they had. Age 70+ shouldn’t be asked to have to learn a computer to watch these shows that they watched since Soap Operas came to existence. Many don’t have the ability to learn something new that is as advanced as a computer. And comparing an radio to TV transition is just goofy. Internet and computers are much more harder to work versus a old school television!

    Reply

  11. Linda Dowell says:

    I would pay a fee each month to watch these soaps at my leisure – I do believe this will be the end result – it won’t be computer advertising.

    And, I’ll pay………and I would guess I’m not unique – most die hard soap fans will.

    Reply

    brian replied

    agreed, Linda, I will pay to for OLTL, even in Canada

    Reply

  12. Gmbenet says:

    The only way this will work is if advertisers are willing to pay for it and there are actors who are willing to work cheap.

    This might be a good opportunity for aspiring actors who need a chance to showcase their talents. I do not see veteran soap actors doing this under contract because the pay would be too low. They (the veteran actors) could use the demise of AMC and OLTL to pursue other interests that would be more lucrative.

    Something could be worked out regarding sets. I don’t know about wardrobe, hair and make-up.

    So ultimately, the shows that would air on the Internet might not be the shows the fans were used to seeing on television because of cast changes.

    Reply

  13. Linda Dowell says:

    I don’t know the costs involved of internet broadcast – I believe it must be cheaper in some form because it’s being pursued – ie Netflix and Kevin Spacey – but, if each person paid $25/month to watch AMC/OLTL, and there’s 2.5 million people watching – which we believe to be low – that’s revenue to the org of $62.5mm each month. Plus whatever they may get from internet ads – which may have some significance due to the size of the audience. They may lose some audience – but – they may also gain audience of the young and currently not watching crowd. I think this is a great idea – and – I think it viable – and, I think it’s possible that it will keep our vets employed in a way that they like.

    Reply

  14. david says:

    These shows have the potential to reach tens of millions of more viewers over the internet. Broadband is better developed and cheaper in Western Europe and parts of Asia than the US. Initial financial limitations will be overcome as millions of new viewers begin watching from all over the world. This is a smart strategy and investment. This is the future of video.

    Reply

  15. Todd Bennett says:

    I thought of this as well. Will some of the highest-paid actors (Erika Slezak, Robert S. Woods, Robin Strasser) be open to what I would think would be large pay cuts? Same for Head Writer Rob Carlivati and those behind the scenes?
    Another point I thought of is being on the internet–new stories could be explored that might not have been approved by the bosses at ABC daytime. Partial nudity a possibility? R rated type language? It’s all a possibility as the “soap opera” of yesterday becomes tomorrow’s new daytime serial!

    Reply

  16. monday says:

    I’ll watch online soaps, but I hope AMC & OLTO do better with their story lines. When AMC brought back Greenley it was a big disappointment, the story line between her and david was so boring, there was no chemistry between the two and with ryan either (IMO). I like Cara, but not with Tad, no chemistry, I like Griff, but not with Kendall and I don’t like what they are doing with Marissa & Bianca. Madison & Griff would be a good match up and Cara should be paired with Ryan.

    Reply

  17. mike says:

    I think the viewership of the shows is more than what Nielsen reports. The current rating system must be changed. I think Prospect Park is using the shows to jump start their company. They are using the shows in the way Direct TV used Passions a couple of years ago, to get sign ups they hope will stay even after their show is dropped. I do hope I’m wong. I have watched OLTL since the first days of Doris Belack,Antony Ponzinni, and the Storm Brothers as the Wolek Family, Nat Polen as the fatherly Dr. Jim Craig, Ellen Holly as Carla and Al Freeman Jr as her husband Ed,and Lillian Hayman as her mother Sadie Gray. Over 40 years of great actors and characters I want to continue for 40 more.

    Reply

  18. John F says:

    It’s all about cost, and production costs would be significantly lower for soaps going to the Internet as opposed to television.

    Reply

  19. Alice G says:

    I am happy they are being saved but I hope these two new shows fail because we have enough reality and cooking shows already, Soaps are unique most of us have watched them since we were teenagers. If these show fail they will return our soaps without a doubt. I don’t think AMC and OLTL will be successul on the internet. I think ABC should reconsider because we the soap watchers are the ones watching TV at that time and we want our soaps in the afternoon!!

    Reply

  20. jp says:

    I hope oltl can continue online for a short time and that a cable network like usa or tnt can buy the rights for the show. It can be done. I just found out that Dallas is coming back to tnt in the summer of 2012. Keep believing OLTL fans.

    Reply

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