Last week was definitely a triumphant one for fans tirelessly fighting to bring cancelled ABC daytime serials One Life To Live and All My Children back into production. News broke the morning of January 7th that Prospect Park had finally made an agreement with SAG/AFTRA and The Directors Guild to begin production of both long-running, iconic soaps by February 2013.
Though ex-ABC Executives and Prospect Park partners Jeff Kwatinez and Rich Frank couldn’t make it happen as quickly as they thought, neither gave up and continued to shop for investors over the summer. Thanks to their financial investment profile, they finally secured the backing necessary. In addition, they have the support of the creator of both these shows, Agnes Nixon who shared the news first by posting on the SWAN Facebook page January 4. She addressed fans, “We did it!” Nixon described it to be a historic moment, just as television was when it replaced radio scripted serial programming. Agnes Nixon Statement
Prospect Park had remained silent after the initial leak December 17 that OLTL and AMC were headed for the online arena, until January 7. They made an announcement confirming the deal with the unions, which is what initially stalled the project. “We thank our loyal audience and new generation of fans of both shows who have demonstrated that passion and exciting story lines are not just reserved for traditional television.”
Word also came down late Friday afternoon that an agreement with the Writer’s Guild of America was met and today Daytime Confidential reported that Susie Bedsow Horgan and Thom Racina will be head writers for the online version of OLTL. Rumor is Marlene McPherson will be named head writer for All My Children and Prospect Park is on the look out for a co-head writer.
When news first broke I will admit, as some of you know, I was a little skeptical though cautiously optimistic that these shows would indeed return. Based on what fans have gone through over the past almost two years, trust had been the main issue for me. I wasn’t sure it would happen until I heard WGA finally reached an agreement. Apparently the hold up was that residuals be included for writers.
Personally, I see the big picture and what they are attempting to accomplish by joining the new platform of the online arena. I think the web will not only save our soaps, but also the arts as a whole.
If Jeff Kwatinez and Rich Frank do it right, they could end up being our soap saviors. I am a huge fan of many of the best web series shows out there, and the advantage Prospect Park has is they will have money, as well as a studio to produce them whereas most web serials do not.
The web is exploding with veteran and new talent that haa embraced this new way of storytelling, which is growing at an unprecedented rate! The difference between web content vs. network is freedom! Online TV lounges are the “in thing” and I think once fans get used to the new format, this will be the answer to bringing other soaps back into production. This is a new venture that many people have quietly been working behind-the-scenes to make happen. Question is, will we get juicer stories and scenes since it will be on the Internet where no restrictions apply? I hope so!
The fact these soaps are indeed returning to production is due to soap fans who continued to show their interest and proved if given something great, we’ll watch it! General Hospital’s increase in viewership clearly depicted this. The show ended the year with 3 million viewers, up 180% from 2010, with ratings that consistently soared.
ABC is once again the number one network for daytime programming, in large part thanks to the new regime at General Hospital. While some may not realize it, the fact GH rose significantly in ratings gave Kwatinez and Rich the argument that if you produce a good show, fans will flock to see it! Between elevated viewership and various campaigns throughout 2012 specifically geared to thanking sponsors, it became clear to executives soap fans would continue to support the genre.
While I really want these reboots to be a success, I still think fans should continue the fight for a dedicated soap channel on cable. This would be a great way to continue to see our soaps in syndication, but also could be a tool in growing the online audience by having a place the new episodes can be aired to a broader audience. This would help all online web shows across the board.
The key and challenge for Prospect Park as they move forward, will be to reach the over million viewers that are not a part of the social media or watch via the internet. Kwatinez and Frank are planning to enter into contracts with Hulu, as well as Netflix in preparation for distribution which is probably the smartest thing they can do to ensure mulitiple ways to access The Online Network. Audiences can stream straight to their televisions, effectively allowing the option to forego watching via computer. I believe Roku will be another way to access online content and as the industry slowly makes this shift, it won’t be long until cable providers allow instant connection to web programming.
Ultimately I feel this is a good step in the evolution of soaps migrating to the web. My hope is that soap fans will take this new format, embrace it and be proud of what they have accomplished- who says soaps are dead?? Soaps will go on and never die because soap fans are the most loyal, determined and fierce fans anywhere! In 2011 fans cried, 2012 fans fought and 2013 will be the RETURN OF SOAPS!!
Congratulations to those who never gave up! Good things come to those who wait. RHeart did a special edition broadcast, giving several different points of view on the return of OLTL and AMC. While my co-host does not believe the soap format will work online, I disagree, cautiously optimistic. Listen and tell us what you think?