Saturday, July 09, 2011

Daytime Television’s Savior is The Web

There may be a life after television for the Daytime Soap Opera Genre. Prospect Park, a production company, announced the launching of the soap operas “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” on the internet. The heroes from the movies will have a final appearance on ABC in the next month. After this period, the online environment will revive the old soap operas that were once at the top of the ratings. The cancellation decision of ABC came after the audience in the US began decreasing every day. In this context, CBS’ decision to put an end to their two soap operas “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns”, was only the beginning of the end.

Both ABC and CBS’ decisions leave the audience with only four of their favorite soap-operas that is a reflection of the audience’s dimensions. But the online environment didn’t seem (according to executives like Brian Frons) to hit the soap opera audience. We found that to be shocking considering the fact that Brian Frons considers himself to be an “authority” on what works in all things entertainment. Arrogant bastard [LOL!]. This latest decision comes in another context. There are a number of web-based companies, such as Google, Netflix and HBO [with HBOGo] that are pushing video content (movies, television shows, original series) onto the internet, because of the fact that studies are continuing to show that the average viewer spends a 4 to 1 ratio of time, 4 being the internet, 1 being television… on the web.

Will it all run smoothly? Personally, I believe that the internet audience, from a “global” perspective will embrace and has embraced the American Daytime Soap Opera for a few years now. Right before the cancellation of CBS’ “Guiding Light”, audiences as far as Bangkok and New Zealand were glued to the internet to watch what was unfolding. This really isn’t a surprise considering that American “culture” has long been directly linked overseas to Daytime Soap Operas.

The other question which will linger for a bit is, what exactly does this mean for cable television? All of the televisions currently being sold are web-ready. They can be hooked up to keyboards, towers, laptops, cell phones and gaming consoles. Yet another debate will be whether or not censorship from the FCC will be able to “control” soap opera content. And what about this production company, Prospect Park? Who are they? To uncover more information with details, check out our pal Michael Fairman’s column: as he has been on top of this entire story for the past month. We love you Michael!

Anyway, as we all know, the “Guiding Light” Otalia storyline [played to perfection by Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia] came to a grinding halt when the “suits” at P&G decided that two women should not be given a love scene or be able to display affection in the same manner as heterosexual couples have for years. What was even more interesting was that the two characters were not necessarily “gay” as much as they were perhaps bisexual or just two people of the same sex who fell in love. No matter how it was defined by the writers, the actresses or the viewers, the story was never given the proper ending causing fans all over the world to be outraged. And rightfully so as the story itself became a worldwide phenomenon.

According to The Wallstreet Journal, the deal gives Prospect Park exclusive rights to “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” for more than a decade, and pays Disney millions of dollars a year in royalties for as long as the shows are produced, according to people familiar with the terms. Prospect Park’s move to buy the shows is a gamble on the growing— but still relatively small world of producing original, scripted content online. Earlier this year, Netflix Inc. struck a lucrative deal to buy exclusive rights to a new TV series starring Kevin Spacey. Other companies including Yahoo Inc. and AOL Inc. are also ramping up their efforts to make original web shows.

Prospect Park says that it aims to keep producing the shows, which currently air hour-long episodes five days a week, at the same “format and length,” although a person familiar with the deal said the production budget would be somewhat lower after subtracting ABC’s royalties. Prospect Park is just beginning the process of meeting with actors and others involved with the soaps to work out whether they will stay on board, the person added. Producers could sell the shows as an online subscription to consumers, the person familiar with the plans said. They are also exploring advertising sales and sponsorships or product-placement deals, the source added.

So how does this translate with daytime actors and fans? Well, for one thing, SAG will more than likely have to encourage the actors/actresses to take pay cuts as the medium is no longer going to be “production cost dinosaurs”. As for the audiences, it is, as we said, going to be strongly based in a more “global” market which means language variations as well as a much less censored product with far more “creative freedom”. We will all have to wait to uncover the eventually outcome of this new distribution twist… but we are predicting a far more open-ended environment with stories that are far more provocative than ever before.

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