There is a very interesting read for all soap fans and those in the industry out today from the Wall Street Journal’s Digital Network’s, Peter Kafka. In it, Kafka details part of the overall investment pitch and the goals for Prospect Park moving One Life to Live and All My Children to the web come January, and that according to Kafka, Prospect Park’s Jeff Kwatinetz still needs some additional funding to make the project work as he has envisioned. Here are some excerpts below!
Wall Street Journal: “Kwatinetz and his Prospect Park production firm want to take two long-running ABC soap operas – “All My Children”, which went off the air in September, and “One Life to Live”, which will end in January — and start making new episodes that should look and sound exactly like the originals. Except you’ll need a broadband connection to watch them. If you’re one of the people who thinks many folks no longer make a distinction between stuff they watch on TV and stuff they watch on the Web, this will make perfect sense. But Kwatinetz has yet to win over enough financial backers, which is why he’s now talking to people like me, hoping we’ll help him make his case.
Cost: An average hour of one of his soaps currently costs ABC around $160,000 to make, which is outrageously cheap for TV but fantastically expensive for the Web. But Kwatinetz says he’s not going to be able to save much money when he moves the shows online — he’ll still be paying the same writers, actors and production staff. Overall, he figures he’ll need around $80 million to produce both shows for a year, and $65 million in hand to start up production.
Audience: Both shows averaged around 2.5 million viewers an episode on ABC this year. But Kwatinetz thinks he can make a profit if he can just bring 10 percent of those eyeballs to the Web. That doesn’t seem outrageous given the commitment that some soap viewers make to their shows.
Revenues: This is the part requires the biggest leap of faith. Kwatinetz figures that if Web TV portals like Hulu can command $40 cpms for their stuff, he can, too. Particularly because his episodes will be new, not re-runs that aired days earlier. He also figures he can re-sell the shows to traditional cable down the road, and/or sell them via distributors like Apple’s iTunes.
But there’s a reason that no one is making video with TV-level budgets for the Web yet, and that’s because ad buyers aren’t paying up consistently for it. YouTube’s new plan, for instance, assumes that its channel partners will spend considerably less than $100,000 per hour to make their stuff for the site. And the stuff that runs on Hulu isn’t dependent on that advertising revenue — it’s built with TV ad dollars in mind.
Still, compared to some pitches we’ve seen win funding in the last couple years, this one seems almost conservative. But Kwatinetz still doesn’t have all of the cash he needs to go forward. “A lot of the investor pool that we go to are people with Hollywood backgrounds,” he says . “And while we feel that it’s obvious that convergence is here, we’ve met with an unusual amount of skepticism. So now we’re going out to Silicon Valley, and they seem to get it.”
Kwatinetz would like to have his shows up and running as soon as “One Life to Live” ends in mid-January, but unless he starts very soon it will be hard to hit that deadline.”
So if anyone with pockets books is out there and reading this, you may want to consider making this investment!