Wednesday, April 25, 2007

'Passions' heads to DirecTV

Josef Adalian at Variety is reporting:

NBC is closing in on a deal that will keep sudser "Passions" alive via an unusual outlet: DirecTV.

In what would be its biggest-ever original programming initiative, satellite provider is set to acquire original episodes of the soap opera from NBC U TV Studio. Segs would likely begin airing this fall, after the sudser ends its run on NBC.

There will be some changes, however.

Instead of five days per week, "Passions" will air only four times per week. It's also expected the show's budget will be reduced further to accommodate the different business model.

Neither NBC nor DirecTV would comment, but insiders said a deal could be finalized by week's end. It's unclear how much DirecTV will pay NBC, but a typical sudser costs a little more than $1 million per week to produce for network TV.

DirecTV has been edging further into the original content business, airing several first-run skeins on what it calls the 101. It's unclear if the company will program "Passions" on that channel or use the sudser as part of a larger programming initiative.

Peacock said earlier this year that it was canceling "Passions" after an eight-year run on the net.

My take: This is excellent news for soaps. DirecTV taking an interest bodes well for the future of daytime soaps and possibly even new original soap programming.

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