Can soaps work up a lather online? And at what cost?
That’s what many readers have been asking since news broke last week that “All My Children” and “One Life To Live” have been marked for a new life as Internet products.
The short answer: No. Not in the long run. Why? Because I don’t believe that’s the goal of the would-be saviors.
For those of you who missed the news last week, online distribution company Prospect Park had licensed the rights to the two ABC two dramas and will keep them up and running on the Web. The company assures viewers that the format and length will not change.
Flo DiBona, a consultant and soap activist who has been watching “Children” for decades, called it an “unacceptable solution” adding it “would eliminate the ability of millions to see these shows.”
She’s right. Soaps skew older. While many of that age bracket are computer-savvy, just as many are not.
The majority of TVs in U.S. households are not connected to the web and the show’s hour-long format would challenge even the most diehard fan to watch it on a computer screen. Not to mention the fact that, in a lot of homes, internet speeds make watching anything online a challenge. So in addition to paying for the soap subscription, online viewers will have to pay more for a faster Internet speed — and this just to maintain the status quo.
If this change were happening five to 10 years down the road, maybe enough televisions would be connected to the internet or perhaps if the shows’ formats were shortened, fans could tolerate watching them from a computer.
But that’s not the only problem with the concept.
The shows will inevitably change. Many of the actors have already found other gigs. Reports indicate others have their doubts about staying. For every cast member soaps lose, a percentage of loyal fans could follow.
Also, the show’s budgets will have to shrink. That will affect the writing and production quality, creating more fan rifts.
So why would Prospect Park make the deal? Surely they see all the obstacles and have figured it out, you say.
My guess: It’s worth the money they’ll lose on their investment for the publicity and the web traffic it will generate for the short time the soaps survive online.
Having said that, Prospect has a couple of paths to possible and marginal success:
n The company could partner with a cable network. Yes, cable nets initially said no because of the cost, but Prospect Park is already offsetting that. And yes, it would weaken the demand online. But the cable channel could broadcast the soaps a month behind on TV. Diehards fans would eventually relent and buy that internet-connected TV so they could know what’s happening a month before everyone else.
n They could also combine the two soaps into one. Soaps usually have dueling story lines anyway. Just set one in Pine Valley and the other in Landview.
But isn’t that the same as making each soap a half hour? No. By intertwining the two soaps, fans of each could get hooked on both, with a bigger net gain for the single program. A win for distributors; and at least a marginal win for fans. What are your thoughts? Will you follow the soaps to the World Wide Web?
More sudsy news
It’s official, Drake Hogestyn is reuniting with Deidre Hall on “Days of Our Lives.”
Hogestyn will reprise his role as John Black on Sept. 26. He joins Deidre Hall, who will also return to the NBC sudser to resume her role as Marlena Evans.
“We are thrilled that Deidre and Drake are rejoining the show, said Ken Corday, executive producer.
“We are gearing up for some amazing cast surprises and guest stars visiting Salem in the fall, launching a grand event airing on September 26.”
Hall starred on the show for 35 of its 45 years, while Hogestyn has appeared alongside her for 25 years. Between the two, they’ve gone through four weddings (not to mention bouts of paralysis, amnesia, false deaths, and mind-control).
New faces on NBC-2
Nick Ciletti will be joining the NBC-2 news team as the new weekend anchor.
He most recently worked at KYMA in Yuma, Ariz., where he anchored and produced the 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. weekday newscasts.
Ciletti started there in 2009 as a morning anchor. Ciletti is a 2009 graduate of the University of Miami with degrees in both journalism and Spanish. He is a native of the Philadelphia area.
His first day is Aug. 8.
Ciletti is replacing Lindsay Logue, who has moved to the anchor position for the 4 and 11 p.m. weekday newscasts.
Bill Green is a Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com journalist and a professional couch potato. Contact him at email@example.com.