Canceled TV soaps find new life online

'All My Children' and 'One Life to Live' are back with original episodes on Hulu. This could be a model that spreads.

By Jonathan Berr Apr 30, 2013 9:56AM
Publicity photo released by The Online Network showing actors Corbin Bleu and Erika Slezak on the set of The second act for "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" (pictured), two soap operas that Walt Disney's (DIS) ABC canceled in 2011, appears to be off to a good start.

According to data from Hulu, which began offering the shows on Monday along with Apple's (AAPL) iTunes, they're ranking Nos. 1 and 2 on its list of popular programs. Hulu, which is owned by Disney, Comcast (CMCSA) and News Corp. (NWS), doesn't release streaming data about specific shows. Still, soap opera fans are naturally overjoyed that their favorite programs are living to fight another day. Critical response seems also to be largely positive.

Although pundits, including me, have long declared soap operas to be passé, the genre has proved to be surprisingly resilient. As I wrote earlier this year, "General Hospital," the surviving TV soap on ABC has done well in the ratings. That's due in part to the creative way the program celebrated its 50th anniversary by bringing back stars from its heyday in the 1980s and providing viewers with what they want most, an interesting story.

Yes, quality matters to soap fans.

Prospect Park, a closely held production company, bought the rights to "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" after they were canceled, with the intent of relaunching them online. As The New York Times recently noted, this took longer than expected. Prospect Park also has filed a strange $25 million lawsuit against the network, accusing it of "undermining" its efforts by misusing characters from "One Life to Live" on "General Hospital." ABC denies any wrongdoing.

The odds of the online initiative succeeding are strong. As The Times notes, Prospect Park has slashed the show's production costs to $80,000 from $175,000, in part by changing the format from an hour to a half-hour. The shows have to attract only a fraction of their former audiences to be profitable.

If Prospect Park succeeds and Netflix's (NFLX) attempt to resurrect the cult comedy "Arrested Development" proves fruitful, other companies will no doubt try to bring back shows that fans believe were taken off the air before their time. 

Some resurrected shows do great. News Corp.'s Fox brought back "Family Guy" a few years ago because its reruns on The Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, which is part of Time Warner (TWX), proved to be hugely popular. Another canceled Fox show, "Futurama," was revived by Viacom's (VIA) Comedy Central.

Imitation isn't only the sincerest form of flattery in Hollywood, it's a business model.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter@jdberr.

More on moneyNOW

May 1, 2013 8:45PM
I saw the new versions of All My Children and One Life to Live and I must say I am impressed.  These shows look even better than they did on network television and sexier.  I know people of all ages that also enjoyed them - I think they will be a hit.  :)  They already are with me!
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.



Quotes delayed at least 15 min


There’s a problem getting this information right now. Please try again later.
There’s a problem getting this information right now. Please try again later.
Market index data delayed by 15 minutes

[BRIEFING.COM] Recent action saw the S&P 500 (+0.1%) slip to a session low, while the Nasdaq Composite (-0.1%) is now in the red.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq has trailed the S&P 500 since the start and has been pressured into negative territory by the continued underperformance of chipmaker stocks. The PHLX Semiconductor Index has widened its loss to 0.8% amid weakness in 29 of its 30 components.

Furthermore, the index has also been pressured by the biotech group, which has ... More


There’s a problem getting this information right now. Please try again later.