By Tracie Powell
In a sea of negative soap opera news, there is one bright spot: Broadway Video Digital Media Distribution and its release of AS THE WORLD TURNS episodes on DVD.
But wait, there is more good news.
In addition to ordering online through the company’s website or Amazon.com, fans will soon be able to buy episodes right off store shelves.
Classic episodes of AS THE WORLD TURNS and GUIDING LIGHT will hit store shelves next year.
“We’ve been talking to re-sale partners who can have these releases and others on store shelves next year,” the company’s president, Mark Yates, told World Turns TV. “We’re working toward an aggressive release schedule. The GUIDING LIGHT is our next big release, and then we will turn to the other shows.”
The company had been archiving and distributing television programs for TeleNext Media (Procter & Gamble’s production company) for five years when As The World Turns was canceled in 2010. Based on this relationship, Broadway Video Digital Media Distribution was able to license 21,000 hours of content that it will begin streaming online by the middle of next year, Yates said.
Yates declined to say how many As The World Turns DVD box sets the company has sold since the initial offering in October. He did say sales were robust enough to attract ‘a number of online sales and online partners’ and to justify creating an aggressive release calendar for next year.
That is no small feat considering nearly everyone else has pronounced the death of soap operas.
Come January, there will only be four English-language daytime serials on network television, down from 20 in their heyday of the 1970s and early 1980s. Just a week ago soap fans were crushed to learn that two shows they thought had been saved – All My Children and One Life To Live – would instead go dark for good. But while others busy themselves with writing obituaries for daytime dramas, BVDM Distribution believes it has found new life for these longtime fan favorites.
In addition to WORLD TURNS and GUIDING LIGHT, the company also licensed the rights to other soap icons including Search For Tomorrow, ANOTHER WORLD, The Edge of Night and Texas.
“If I were a Wall Street investor," Yates said, "I’d be one of those guys who buys when the market is down.” He added that while television networks view soap operas as a declining genre, he sees millions of viewers who want to continue watching these shows “There is a significant market that is feeling overlooked and under-served. I think no one is showing these fans respect for their loyalty to the programs,” Yates said. “If we can do that, if we can show them respect, then I think we’ll keep these fans as loyal to us as they are to their shows.”
A 45-year-old HOT IN CLEVELAND fan, Yates knows technology. He worked in technical operations for MTV and Showtime before being handpicked by SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE creator Lorne Michaels to join Broadway Video in 1994 to open its duplication and conversion division. (In addition to SNL, Michaels is a backer for at least two web series productions, including one called II WANNA HAVE YOUR BABY.) The duplication and conversion unit was spun off from the production arm of Broadway Video in 2007, was renamed Broadway Video Digital Media, and is now headed by Yates.
Commonly referred to as BVDM - it is a distribution company, not a production company - meaning that it is not in the business of producing original programming. It is, however, the first company to try home distribution of soap operas in North America.
Logistics have been one of the biggest challenges in producing the themed DVD box sets, Yates said. BVDM Distribution not only has to locate the content within its archives, but also remove background music or delete scenes that might violate copyright laws.
But the response has been so overwhelming that the company will continue to produce the box sets, at least for World Turns and Guiding Light.
While fans will begin seeing DVD sets for GUIDING LIGHT early next year, the other shows, including THE EDGE OF NIGHT and SEARCH FOR TOMORROW, are candidates for online-only distribution because audiences aren’t as large, Yates said. Still, he added, something will be available from all of the shows by the end of 2012.
And there may be more good news. Yates, who appears to know a little about drama and suspense too, said fans will have to tune in next time to learn what will happen.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Visit SoapClassics at SoapClassics.com.
Tracie Powell is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.
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