Can Online Shows Be Habit-Forming? Soaps May Provide Some Clues
Back in 1994, one Kaiser Family Foundation study found that viewing was highest in young women (18-29) and older women (50 and over). But Reuters reported that as of the end of ALL MY CHILDREN's run on ABC, the median viewer age was 57. Hulu, on the other hand, has a younger viewer base — earlier in April, it was reported to have an average age of 38.
So the challenge for Hulu is presumably in two parts: they need a younger audience (candidly, you can't just let the audience age and age and then die), and they need to keep a base level of the older audience that has sustained these shows always. The opening episode of ALL MY CHILDREN on Hulu is fairly transparent on that point — it introduces some younger characters and a high school plot, but also focuses on people who were on when I was a teenager, including Angie and Jesse Hubbard, who became a so-called "supercouple" in the early 1980s and are still making out 30 years later. (And good for them.)
The Beloved Return of Angie and Jessie (Again)
With the regular assaults on Black love and marriage in the media, this is one couple that has stayed the course, no matter how difficult. Their 1980s heyday cemented them in the minds of viewers who weren’t used to seeing a young African-American couple on TV everyday, who were held in equal regard to the White characters on the show.
The lesson of Angie and Jessie may not be that love conquers all (we know it doesn’t), but certainly that when love exists, it’s hard to break its bonds.
A Soap Opera Goes Digital: On the Set of the New (Digital-Only) ‘All My Children’
Jeff Kwatinetz, one of Prospect Park’s founders, is confident that this is only the beginning. He lives in New York and Los Angeles but has been spending his time lately in the corner office of the Stamford studio (which he found through Ice Cube, with whom he works and who shot Are We There Yet? in Stamford). “I think that online distribution is the future of television. I can’t imagine it going in a different direction,” he says. “We saw the record companies trying to force people to get in their cars and go to record stores and that didn’t work so well.”
But at the same time, while he’s sure that online television can be successful (he points to House of Cards as evidence), he’s aware that it won’t be immediately clear exactly how successful his attempt at it will be. A lot of people were watching AMC when it was cancelled—but a TV network can only show one thing at a time, unlike the internet, says Kwatinetz, and the network didn’t care about the soaps; no love is lost between Prospect Park and ABC, though Kwatinetz can’t comment on the ongoing lawsuit between the two—but some of those viewers may have given up and some may be frightened off by the move online. Though there are a few other potential revenue streams for Prospect Park, most of the money they make will be from ads viewers see when they watch the shows on Hulu, and ads depend on viewership numbers—but, unlike television soaps viewers, the new viewers aren’t expected to watch episodes on the day they’re released. It could take weeks for Kwatinetz to know exactly how many people are tuning in.
The show’s executive producer, Ginger Smith, says she hasn’t been told how many eyeballs Kwatinetz wants, but she’s not worried: “I think we all know in our heart of hearts that we’re going to succeed,” she says. In the mean time, she’s more concerned with keeping those eyeballs glued to their screens than attracting them in the first place. Smith was with the show for 23 years—starting as an intern and working her way up to producer—until production moved to L.A. in 2010; she decided to jump the storyline forward five years when she was asked to return as executive producer for this incarnation. Aging the characters who were children would enable them to carry their own stories. Those stories will, she hopes, attract a younger audience—people who might not have time to sit down and watch an hour of television every day, but will have time to stream two and a half hours a week on their own schedules—and provide a springboard for stories that can draw on old-favorite plots. “I think we’re going to get numbers from everybody curious to begin with. My concern was that I can’t let the momentum of the story drop,” she says, “which is why you might see some other people introduced onto the canvas who the audience didn’t expect. That will be my gift to all of them if they stick around.”
ALL MY CHILDREN gets frisky online
"AMC online has a light touch, a campy humor and a new steaminess. An old show finds new moves, and it sure is fun catching up."
Kassie DePaiva "overwhelmed with excitement and emotion"
"After two years of ONE LIFE TO LIVE being off the air, it’s amazing to say that today (Monday, April 29) fans can tune-in again to see the characters that they’ve grown to love over the years and continue to watch their stories unfold. We’re finally back, and I’m just overwhelmed with excitement and emotion."
Soaps ‘One Life to Live’ and ‘All My Children’ now online: Will they revolutionize TV?
Judging from the response on Twitter, fans of OLTL and AMC are thrilled to have their stories return. Only four soap operas are left on daytime television; reality shows and talk shows are said to be cheaper to produce.
“As few as five years ago, this move of an established TV series to online exhibition would have sounded like folly,” Jim McKairnes, a former CBS executive and now TV consultant, college professor and author told me. ”But in today’s quickly changing world of pipelines and platforms and new-business-models, of ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Hemlock Grove’ and ‘Arrested Development’ on Netflix, of content rather than programming, it seems merely to represent the next phase of storytelling,” McKairnes said.
The challenge, of course, will be the bottom line: Will these shows make money? “I’m loath to use the word, but monetizing is still being figured out,” McKairnes said.
AMC and OLTL sweepstakes
At the end of the sweepstakes, one winner from each blog hosting this sweepstakes will receive a yearlong subscription to Hulu Plus. One grand prize winner will win a Roku!
Rob Wilson takes on
ALL MY CHILDREN’
“I grew up with my mom and my grandma, so I watched a lot of daytime,” he said. “I was forced to watch with them when I was a little kid. Now, I get to reminisce about that. I know my mom and my family are so excited for me to be a part of this.”
ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Jerry verDorn glad to be back, now on Web
"This is very dear to my heart. I remember when I was breaking in, actors would tell me about the transition of shows from radio to television," verDorn said. "I think this is similarly historic. I'm glad to be part of the changing of the guard."
Spicier ALL MY CHILDREN, ONE LIFE TO LIVE debut online on April 29
Each new episode bows at 5 a.m. eastern Monday to Thursday, with Friday reserved for a recap episode. "There's no constraints anymore. You feel like a kid in the playground," said Ginger Smith, executive producer of ALL MY CHILDREN, noting the lack of a nervous network to pull back on controversial storylines or keep the occasional burst of profanity from an episode's final cut.
Jennifer Pepperman, executive producer for ONE LIFE TO LIVE, declined to comment on the lawsuit. But she acknowledged two characters would be recast with new actors as the show tries to carry on in the same time frame, as if their characters had kept cheating, backstabbing and confronting each other over the two years the show has been off the air.
"Watching entertainment online, this is the future," Pepperman said. "It's not that hard to figure out. (Older viewers) will talk to their daughters or granddaughters and they'll say, 'Grandma, this is how you do it.' "
Back From the Dead, Two Soap Operas Stage Online Comeback
The soaps' rebirth will test whether older-skewing audiences will migrate online. When it ended its TV run, "All My Children" attracted an average audience of 2.5 million viewers with a median age of 57, according to Nielsen data provided by Horizon Media.
The online soaps will have the same suspense, heartbreak and betrayal, though plots will move quickly and avoid the more outlandish storylines of the past, according to Prospect Park's Jeff Kwatinetz.
The shows "won't be bringing people back from the dead," he said. "There won't be people rescued from aliens. The stories are grounded, the storytelling is quicker-paced. It's more relevant."
Vincent Irizarry brings evil Dr. David back to life
Viewers saw a more reformed David when AMC concluded its broadcast run over a year and a half ago. (Helping revive all those presumed dead characters earned him some goodwill.) But audiences will discover that the events of the finale -- when J.R. took aim at the good citizens of Pine Valley -- still play a big role in David's life five years later.
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"That moment took on significant impact in David's life," Irizarry said. "We're going to see the effects of that (based on) what took place that night at Brooke and Adam's party. That event continues to propel David forward in the weeks, months and years ahead. He's going to be that character that viewers know and love to hate."
Eden Riegel chats about the resurrection of the citizens of Pine Valley … online
“I’d say the biggest difference is that kids are able to use sort of the slang they’d really use. They sound like authentic kids,” Riegel says. “We’re really catering to the fans this time, not catering to advertisers. This is really a fan-driven resurgence. It’s because the fans never gave up hope that this even happened.”
After running on ABC for more than 40 years, two classic soaps find new life online
“When viewers tune in for ONE LIFE TO LIVE on Monday,” says “OLTL” executive producer Jennifer Pepperman, “they will see 17 members of the former cast. We will take the questions left unanswered a year ago, address and answer them. It will be the show everyone remembers.”
Tuc Watkins & Cady McClain Interview: Soap Opera Fans Rejoice As Two Classics Return
One of the pair's press tour interviews from Thursday, this one on Evansville's EYEWITNESS NEWS.
Tuc Watkins On Returning To Play David Vickers
"Roger [Howarth] and I have been friends since 1994, so we know each other's characters. ... We know each other as people really well. ... [As for our characters], David is dying to be Todd's best friend and Todd is dying for David to go away, so that kind of conflict makes for a good relationship. Characters that usually get along really well on a soap, don't have a lot of scenes together, unless it's your love interest. So, he and I developed a really fun relationship where I'm kind of like the little brother, like, 'Let me go. Let me hang out with you.' And he's like, 'Get the heck away from me.'"
Online-Only Soap Ads Won't Air on NBC, ABC, CBS
CBS, which has run ads for digital outlets Netflix and Hulu (which is distributing the revived soaps), declined comment. But a source tells THR the network views the digital re-launch as a direct competitor to its popular daytime dramas, including THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.
NBC also declined to comment as did Prospect Park. However, a source says NBC refused to carry ads during its only remaining daytime soap, DAYS OF OUR LIVES. The network was open to primetime spots, which Prospect Park declined to pursue. NBC did, however, sell ads on several of its cable networks.
ABC sources say the network was willing to accept ads within GH because of the licensing relationship, but on April 17 when Prospect submitted an ad for OLTL that included Howarth prominently. ABC refused it -- on the grounds that it would confuse the audience.
The CW Network did accept ads for the online soaps, which began running in such shows as HART OF DIXIE and 90210 last week. Fox, according to a source, also was open to running the ads, but Prospect Park decided against running ads there because the network has only primetime programming and no history with soap operas.
But the ads are visible other places. Prospect Park placed them on numerous cable TV networks and Web sites, as well as social media.
AMC & OLTL Will Be Eligible For Emmys In 2014
David Michaels, senior executive director of the Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards, tells Soaps In Depth that the beloved soaps (set to relaunch on Monday from The OnLine Network), will be eligible for consideration in 2014... it's just a matter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences deciding in which category to place them! "In May, we have an awards committee meeting We're going to start discussing that now," Michaels reveals. "There are a bunch of different ways to go. They are obviously going to be eligible for the contest; we're just trying to decide how they should be eligible."
'One Life to Live' and 'All My Children' rise online from their TV ashes
"And we're doing stories that are very contemporary," Rich Frank notes. "Agnes Nixon (who created both serials) broke ground on subjects like abortion and interracial marriage, and we're going to do that. We're going to talk about things that are in the newspaper every day."
Cady McClain on Dixie Cooney and the return of AMC
"The thing I like most about Dixie is that she is always willing to give people
another chance. She is a very forgiving person with a lot of compassion for others. That said I always hated how she was victimized, and I wanted her to be stronger. This time around I think the writers really understand how to balance her heart and her strength, as do I."
NPR's "All Things Considered"
Listen to the five minute segment at the link above.
Erika Slezak & Thorsten Kaye on WLS Chicago
The ALL MY CHILDREN and ONE LIFE TO LIVE Casts Give Their Best Shocked Faces!
- ALL MY CHILDREN Premiere Red Carpet Interviews On WE LOVE SOAPS TV
- ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Robin Strasser, Corbin Bleu & Thom Racina Plus Alex McCord & Colleen Zenk On WE LOVE SOAPS TV
- Prospect Park: 'Our Competition Isn't GENERAL HOSPITAL. It’s The Primetime Soaps On Hulu'
- ALL MY CHILDREN's Darnell Williams Guest Bartends On WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE
- INTERVIEW: Melissa Archer Says ONE LIFE TO LIVE 'Feels Like A Rebirth'
- INTERVIEW: On the Set of ONE LIFE TO LIVE with Rob Gorrie
- INTERVIEW: ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Laura Harrier Is Excited To Be In Llanview
- INTERVIEW: Josh Kelly Loves Being Part Of ONE LIFE TO LIVE's 'Beautiful Family'
- INTERVIEW: Catching Up With ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Kelley Missal
- INTERVIEW: Erika Slezak On The Return Of ONE LIFE TO LIVE
- INTERVIEW: ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Shenaz Treasury On Landing An American Soap, and Rama's Roving Eye
- INTERVIEW: ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Andrew Trischitta On Playing 'A Pretty Bad Kid'
- INTERVIEW: Jerry verDorn Has 'High Hopes' For The New ONE LIFE TO LIVE
- INTERVIEW: ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Tuc Watkins On Playing David Vickers The Past 19 Years, And His Indie Soap Award Nomination