TelevisionWeek spoke to some of the experts in the field (Ed Martin, Brian Frons, Jonathan Reiner, Tim Brooks) and zeroed in on the top ways networks and studios have been exploring to keep the genre alive, and what to look for before another long-standing title is cut.
1. Explore online video as a delivery method and marketing tool.
2. Increase audience reach through cable network distribution.
3. Keep story quality as priority No. 1.
4. Find new ways to expand the creative talent pool.
5. Cut costs of production without sacrificing quality.
6. Leave soap operas alone entirely.
Story quality has always been an ignored factor in this type of article so it is nice to see that highlighted here (thanks, Mr. Reiner). But story quality alone will not save the daytime soaps at this point, or any show. My favorite primetime soap, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, is brilliantly produced, airs on DirecTV as well as NBC, has lowered production costs, is available online (basically, it meets all the above criteria) and yet the show is lucky to draw four millions viewers. But the shared production costs, which is helping it stay in the air, may be something the daytime soaps can learn from in the future.
I would love to think that any consistently well-written and produced daytime soap would attract an audience but that's not necessarily a given. These shows have to become relevant and current and attract younger viewers, while maintaining enough balance not to lose their core audience.
Probably the biggest factor not mentioned is the fact that the folks in charge of most of these soaps and daytime programming do not have the appropriate vision for the shows they are making decisions about. What is ATWT about? What is AMC about? I have a feeling both new and old fans have a very different opinion than TPTB.
I do agree, and have been saying so for two years now on this blog, that there are many other ways to monetize the soaps that are not being used. The article mentioned the "Nuke" channel on YouTube which has nearly 15,000 subscribers. Why is CBS/PGP not putting their own "Nuke" channel on YouTube with commercials and eliminating the fan channels? This seems like a no-brainer. It works for SNL which forces people to go to NBC.com or Hulu.com to watch or embed clips instead of YouTube. The same could be done with "Otalia". Fans are doing this out of love for the characters, which is helping to bring new viewers to these shows, but no one is making any money from any of it. What a waste.
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