Online Soaps an Intriguing Prospect for Daytime Emmys

All My Children

Digital revivals of "All My Children," "One Life to Live" poised to be gamechangers, but predictions vary on their potential.

Agnes Nixon’s socially relevant serials “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” were groundbreaking in content when they debuted on ABC over 40 years ago.

Now, those same programs, which the Alphabet net canceled in 2011, stand poised to chart new territory — as business models for online programming — when they return with fresh episodes starting April 29.

Production company Prospect Park has licensed the serials from ABC and will be presenting them on Hulu Plus, iTunes and Prospect Park’s own network, dubbed the Online Network.

“A while back, Jeff (Kwatinetz, my business partner) and I started to believe that the world was about to change in terms of how viewers receive their programs,” says Rich Frank of Prospect Park. “Almost 20% of college graduates don’t buy television sets. Today, there’s the ability to feed anything to anybody’s screen — TV, iPad, or telephone — and give them programming that they want.”

While the two canceled serials were no longer wanted by ABC, Frank and Kwatinetz felt that the programs could serve as the foundation for an entire online network.

“At first, we had trouble explaining what we were trying to do, and we couldn’t make the deals,” Frank says. “After a year of (people) being out of work, there was a lot more openness to it. The guilds worked with us.”

There’s buzz that the new versions of ‘Children’ and ‘Life’ will outpace their broadcast counterparts in terms of provocative material, in order to capture new and younger viewers.

“We are going to be a little hotter and sexier,” Rich says. “That doesn’t mean we’ll be doing anything that’s offensive. We’re trying to be contemporary and have storylines that are relevant to people’s lives.”

But online soaps may find it challenging to do doing eye-grabbing material that’s more timely and provocative than what broadcast serials are already providing. For example, “The Young and the Restless” recently told a cyberbullying storyline with some of its teen characters; “Days of Our Lives” is telling an ongoing gay teen love story that has shown two young men kissing and in bed together.

“Nobody tunes in for the bells and whistles,” says “Days” co-exec producer Greg Meng. “This genre’s all about the written word.”

Steve Kent, senior exec programming veep of Sony Pictures Television (which produces “Restless” and “Days”) says he isn’t sure that the Prospect Park endeavor is a true gamechanger.

“This is an evolution of the viewing mechanism,” Kent says, “People have long predicted the demise of network television, but it still exists and will for the foreseeable future.”

As for potentially racier content, Kent says, “If they turn ‘All My Children’ into porn — and I’m sure they won’t — then nobody is going to watch. Soap audiences are more traditional.”

Kent hastens to add, however, that the definition of what’s traditional is “constantly changing.”

No matter what, the industry will be tuning in (logging on?) to see if this venture succeeds both creatively and financially.

“We all have our fingers crossed that this is successful,” says Meng. “(But) these shows won’t be competitive with us.”
Says Frank: “If we’re right, we’ll have started something. If not, then we’ll have spent a lot of time seeing if this would work. But we’re very confident that this will happen and that people will come to us. This is just the start. After we’re up on the air and running we’re going to look at doing other things.”

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  1. Xanna Don't says:

    I thought this article would address AMC & OLTL’s eligibility for The Daytime Emmys. There is an Emmy category for New Approaches in Daytime Entertainment, and they’d certainly qualify for that. But will they be considered in all the other categories as they were when they were broadcast during the day on network tv? The time of day that fans view them is now irrelevant (frankly, it has been since VCRs came along in the 1980s).

  2. Franny Wright says:

    I’m very excited to be getting AMC & OLTL back, I will definitely be watching them. If you really want to see the shows on TV, you can get a device to stream them onto your TV. If all the fans who are able to watch keep tuning in, the better chance there is of the shows ending up on cable.

  3. Peggy Hegner says:

    I think the resurrection of AMC and OLTL is going to be a huge success! This move from TV to another venue is like the old soaps transitioning from radio to TV back in the early 50’s. Not only will new, young people be watching, but us oldie, long-time viewers will be there, too! I’m sure the producers have the good sense to handle things tastefully. Believe it or not, old people are still interested in sex!

  4. robin stewart says:

    Unlike ABC, Prospect listened to the viewers…most of us who are really tired of REALITY shows!!!!!

  5. el rizzo says:

    i for one cant wait to have my daytime familes back…they have been so missed…i stopped watching daytime tv when they went off the air!IM so excited!!!! Welcome (home) Back!!

  6. ctwildheart says:

    I will watch these shows. I will help anyone I can watch these shows. I will not stop until we have SUCCESS! (which for me means everyone has access to soaps!

  7. Jennifer L. Bryan says:

    For those that will not watch because it’s not on cable that is just ridiculous. Prospect Park is doing the best they can to get the shows started back up and the least we can do is to watch. My Grandma spent more time on the computer than I did. Not to mention you can buy smart tvs and have content streamed to your TV sets, which is what I have at home. You can buy inexpensive surround speaker sets that give you ability to watch Hulu Plus on your tv. Did anyone find Greg Meng’s comments to be rude? I hope OLTL and AMC do so much better than Days.

  8. Barbara Schuima says:

    Thank you Prospect Park for bringing our soaps back and I will be around while you get the shows back on their feet……..Can’t wait to see them !!!!

  9. So thankful for PP,Hulu and Apple.I took out a Hulu Plus and just can’t wait.Thank you to all.I have watched these shows from day one and I can handle a little chang in all areas.So let the show begin.Thank you again,

  10. Rita says:

    I am very thankful to Prospect Park for what they are doing. I have been watching both shows for over 40 years. Don’t mind some actors being changed and some new characters added, just don’t want to see it get too racey! I just miss my shows and am glad the actors can get back to work with the people that have become their second family. Good Luck PP in your new venture!!!

  11. LUVTV says:

    Don’t forget about half of your current audience in your quest to chase a younger one. I truly hope you find a cable network to air One Life to Live and All My Children. Though I can and plan to watch via Hulu, I’m not tuning in until I know they will air on cable TV as well. If my mother and grandma can’t watch, I’m sure as heck not tuning in. They’re the reason I got hooked to begin with.

    • ctwildheart says:

      Prospect Park has not forgotten anyone! They ARE currently working on distribution deals with 1. A Cable channel to air after original ‘airing’ online and 2. International distributors for Canadian and overseas viewers.
      If you don’t watch them online – they may not be successful enough for the cable channel to take them! If you truly want them to succeed and end up on cable – you will watch.
      Why can’t your mom and grandma watch? No internet, don’t know how to use a computer? Well then host viewing parties and share the experience with them or find a way to burn them to a dvd and share with them that way OR help them learn how to watch online!

    • Natalia says:

      I feel the same, even though I have been participating in all of those tasks we’ve had since April 14, 2011- when OLTL and AMC were canceled. It’s been such a great year for soaps, primetime and daytime alike. I hope OLTL and AMC are successful online, but I can’t imagine that they will be in this point in time, which is why I think they should be on cable. I know at least a dozen fans, of varying ages, that can’t watch through the internet for numerous reasons (don’t live in the USA, has connectivity issues/lives in rural area, is part of the elder generation who has no inkling how to use a computer). There is a whole bunch of fans who can’t watch, and people don’t seem to understand that. It’s really hard to be happy with this in mind. Also, I can’t find it within myself to swallow the nonsense I’m told. I can read ratings. When OLTL and AMC were canceled, they brought in better ratings that numerous cable shows still on the air. They’d be perfect on cable.
      Internet is the future, cable is the present, and broadcast networks are the past.
      However, I still believe Prospect Park has the sense to try to get a cable deal, so I’m not too worried just yet. As of now, I will be watching through HULU come April 29, but that is because I assume they’ll have more deals worked out by then, which will allow more fans to watch. My mom has connectivity problems with the internet, so I’m really counting on them to work out a cable deal.
      LUVTV, I completely agree that it’s just not the same to watch these shows return when the ones who got us hooked aren’t tuning in with us because they can’t.

      • ctwildheart says:

        See my reply to LUVtv…it is the same for you. :) And thank you for joining us in all those tasks for the past two years – I hope you are continuing them. We are not done with this fight for the same reasons you state…BUT you should watch online.

    • Why would you wait to hope for a cable deal to tune in? Yes, it’s better if a cable deal is eventually struck-and we that have been fighting for AMC and OLTL will continue until that happens-but in the meantime; GET your relatives hooked in. Don’t hurt it for the rest of us because you can’t get what you want.

    • That is the wrong attitude to have, If we want them to eventually end up on cable, we have to watch online, if people don’t tune in why should they bother putting it on cable? Fans have fought over a year to get the shows back.. I will be tuning in, counting down the days.

  12. Jennifer says:

    The challenge is going to be getting viewers who still watch TV as their main medium to get involved with the online scene. Both soaps will have my support and I am hoping it will go well and be brought back to the television screen as well.

    • Lulu says:

      yep young audience will have no problem watching on the net (i know i have 27 years old and don’t watch tv but tv programs on the net like all my friends..i don’t even have a tv !) but the major typical daytime soaps audience are older women who watch tv on tv not so much on internet..therefore could be hard to attract them in a new medium..we will see, i wish these new version of soaps to work !!

      • Xanna Don't says:

        I agree with CT Wildheart: AMC & OLTL’s cancellations brought millions of soap fans “out of the closet” and revealed that we’re widely varied in our demographics. We’re loyal and we’ll follow these shows anywhere. It’s going to be a smashing success. Well done, PP.

      • ctwildheart says:

        Actually Lulu, the major typical daytime soap audience you speak of…is a myth. That may have been true once…but not for a long time. And those that I know that are older – are willing to learn and watch in a new way. I will help anyone and everyone I can!

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