Corday Productions, which produces NBC’s “Days of Our Lives,” is teaming up with digital-media firm All Screens Media to launch Net Soaps/Net Novelas — a venture aiming to create and distribute original “interactive” soap operas online that let fans, thesps and advertisers participate in the shows’ development.
The venture will focus on multilingual soaps for the U.S., Latin America and Brazil. Net Soaps/Net Novelas also is making a branded-content pitch to advertisers to integrate their products or services directly in the new digital series.
“This new venture is about taking the passion consumers have for soaps and novelas into a new era,” said Ken Corday, CEO of Corday Productions, who has been exec producer of “Days of Our Lives” since 1985. “This will be original content that the fans will play a role in greenlighting and casting, delivered in a form that can build devoted communities of fans in the digital space.”
Launch of Net Soaps/Net Novelas comes after another online-soaps project has gone belly-up: Prospect Park Networks, which last year launched new versions of ABC soaps “One Life to Live” and “All My Children” online before becoming embroiled in a legal dispute with the Alphabet net, last month filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The principals behind Net Soaps/Net Novelas say their approach is very different. “Prospect Park was taking existing shows and platform-shifting them,” said All Screens Media founder Peter Heumiller, a former VP of content acquisition for Comcast Cable. “We are creating content in a forward-thinking way that gives us a unique platform to connect with people in multiple ways.”
The sponsorship model is key for Net Soaps/Net Novelas, which has launched its website at netsoapstv.com. Advertisers can get involved to the point of making casting decisions for the shows, according to Heumiller. “It’s really coming full circle – soap operas were originally sponsored by the detergent companies,” he said.
Net Soaps/Net Novelas plans to launch the digital soaps in the third quarter of 2014 quarter, via its own websites and distribution partners. Net Soaps is the English-language version targeted at American auds, while Net Novelas will encompass in-language programming for LatAm and Brazil.
Corday Productions’ executive in charge of production Greg Meng will lead development of online portals that will engage consumers and actors in the creation of the content, via online casting and acting auditions, voting on show concepts and ongoing narrative turns. Actors will be able to upload video reels to Net Soaps/Net Novelas as part of the development process.
“We do have a lot of access to amazing talent, not only daytime but primetime,” Meng said. “We are looking at creating these shows as hyperlocal location-based shows, appealing to local sponsors that have national appeal as well.” For example, a show set in Las Vegas might attract a casino sponsor, he said.
The JV has seed funding from the partners, which are in discussions with potential sponsors and distribution partners, Heumiller said. In addition to original shoes, the venture will look to acquire programming.
The Net Soap/Net Novelas team includes independent producer Rose Ganguzza, who has worked with Brazil’s TV Globo on international distribution and also served as president of Revlon/Latin America. Ganguzza will work with her sister, Patricia Ganguzza, whose AIM Productions provides product placement and sponsorship for corporate clients, on international promotional, talent, sponsorship and distribution deals for Net Soaps/Net Novelas.
Also on board is soap-opera actress Crystal Chappell, who’s had prominent roles on “Days of our Lives,” “The Guiding Light,” “All My Children” and “Santa Barbara.” Chappell created and stars in subscription-based online soap, “Venice,” a short-form series now in its fourth season. She will work with Net Soaps / Net Novelas to vet concepts, produce and direct original shows and mentor new talent.
Corday Productions’ “Days of Our Lives” has been a staple of daytime TV since 1965. The company has produced more than 12,000 episodes of the series with distribution in markets worldwide. In January, NBC announced the renewal of the sudser through September 2016.
“The audience for soaps on TV has dropped, but it’s holding,” Meng said. The new venture, reaching digitally savvy soaps fans, “is an organic fit for us as daytime producers for more than 40 years… This takes us several steps ahead as far as watching when you want, where you want and how you interact with the show.”