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SoapNet cleans off ‘Hope,’ WB skeins

Cabler bows Jan. 24 mixing old with same-day ABC airings

SoapNet has acquired the former ABC daytime series “Ryan’s Hope,” as well as five primetime serial dramas from Warner Bros., the new Disney/ABC Cable Networks channel announced Wednesday.

The Warner Bros. package includes “Knots Landing,” “Falcon Crest,” “Hotel,” “Sisters,” and “The Colbys.” The cabler, which is set to launch Jan. 24, previously announced it had acquired the rights to same-day primetime airings of ABC daytime soaps “All My Children,” “General Hospital,” “One Life to Live” and “Port Charles.”

The deal gives SoapNet all of the approximately 4,000 episodes of “Ryan’s Hope,” which aired on ABC from 1975 to ’89. Aside from “Dynasty” spinoff “The Colbys,” which ran on ABC ’85-87, the rest of the primetime serials have previously aired on cable. “Hotel,” which originally aired on ABC ’83-88, was last seen on E!, which aired the series’94-95. “Sisters,” which aired on NBC ’91-96, aired on Lifetime ’93-98. CBS primetime dramas “Falcon Crest” and “Knots Landing” have both aired on TNT.

SoapNet does not plan on acquiring any more shows before launch, said Carol Sussman, VP, acquired programming, Disney/ABC Cable.

SoapNet will compete head to head with Columbia TriStar Television’s SoapCity, which is also slated to launch in mid-January.

The network launches come at a time when soap opera ratings have been flagging. Through the first six weeks of the fall season, 12 of 14 network daytime dramas were showing losses vs. last year in key young-women demos.

The cable soap nets hope to benefit from the fact that traditional soap opera fans who work during the day could be anxious to catch up on their favorite storylines during primetime. “There are so many different variables as to why those ratings are down. People aren’t around during the day. Their interest is still there, but the opportunity to watch isn’t,” Sussman said.

SoapCity plans to rebroadcast “The Young and the Restless” and “Days of Our Lives” after they air on CBS and NBC, respectively, earlier in the day. The network is expected to announce additional programming plans to fill out the schedule within the next week.

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