Sony pumps soap opera

“Days of Our Lives” is headed to Apple’s iTunes Music Store in a move that’s part of Sony’s effort to help shore up the long-running sudser.

Full episodes of “Days” will be offered at the standard $1.99, but consumers will be able to cut that to just 50¢ per seg by ordering a 20-episode multipass for $9.99. Skein will make its iTunes debut Tuesday.

There have been conversations about including bonus scenes on the iTunes version of “Days,” though nothing has been decided yet.

“Days” now will be the most widely distribbed daytime sudser in the U.S., with episodes available on broadcast (NBC), cable (SoapNet) and online (iTunes). The first sudser with a digital outlet was NBC’s “Passions,” but it will revert to a TV-only model in the fall, when it moves exclusively to DirecTV.

While Sony no doubt hopes to realize some incremental coin from the iTunes play, the main value of the online effort likely will be promotional. Ratings for “Days” have taken a dramatic dip in the past year, in part because of increasingly weak lead-ins from NBC skeins such as the barely breathing “iVillage Live.”

While it remains strong with women 18-34, “Days” has been impacted by the decade-long ratings drought that’s hit all daytime dramas. It hasn’t helped that NBC Universal supremo Jeff Zucker told reporters earlier this year that “Days” likely would be canceled when NBC’s license agreement expires in two years.

Putting “Days” on iTunes could help attract younger eyeballs, some of whom presumably would decide to start watching on-air rather than online. As with most major new iTunes offerings, Apple is expected to feature “Days” prominently on the splash page for the iTunes Music Store during its first days on the service.

Sony and Corday Prods., which produces “Days,” are planning creative changes to the show. A behind-the-scenes exec shakeup is said to be in the works, people familiar with the situation said.

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