Should Traditional Daytime Soaps Be Afraid of The All My Children and One Life to Live Reboots?






Will the new digital versions of All My Children and One Life to Live have traditional network soaps running scared? Not according to Sony Pictures Television boss Steve Kent and Days of Our Lives executive producer Greg Meng.

The daytime television movers and shakers were interviewed for a new piece in Variety, along with Prospect Park's Rich Frank. While Kent and Meng seemed supportive of The Online Network's reboots of the classic ABC sudsers, I did detect a bit of healthy, competitive shade-throwing in the article, especially when discussing reports that the new AMC and OLTL will provide racier content. Here's what Frank had to say about the saucy scuttlebutt.

“We are going to be a little hotter and sexier,” Rich says. “That doesn’t mean we’ll be doing anything that’s offensive. We’re trying to be contemporary and have storylines that are relevant to people’s lives.”

Both Meng and Kent pooh-poohed the use of "bells and whistles", or overly scintillating content on soaps. Said Kent:

“If they turn ‘All My Children’ into porn — and I’m sure they won’t — then nobody is going to watch. Soap audiences are more traditional.”

Meng remained supportive of the new ventures, but apparently doesn't view the returning soaps as a threat to his sudser. Said the Salem, U.S.A. showrunner:

“We all have our fingers crossed that this is successful,” says Meng. “(But) these shows won’t be competitive with us.”

I'm sure many a radio executive thought the same thing about that new-fangled doohickey, the television set back in the 50's. 

Photo credit: TOLN


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Member since:
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If AMC and OLTL 2.0 is not in competition with the remaining soaps then that must mean nbc,abc,and cbs are not in competition with each other. Not!!!! Steve Kent and Greg Meng done lost their damn minds!!!!! Wink

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While I personally believe that the online versions of AMC and OLTL will fail, I hope I'm wrong. The remaining broadcast soaps will watch intensely to see what happens. They should embrace this new venture as they may find themselves transitioning to online as well someday. With success, maybe P&G will release their rights to ATWT & GL for possible resurrection too.

angrierblackerman's picture
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These show are most certainly their competition whether they succeed or not. Online TV is the direct competitor of Terrestrial TV for people's attention.

They shouldn't 'slouch' as my grandmother would say. Greg Meng should especially be worried, as Days is probably the worst soap out of the four remaining. I'm already close to removing Days from my DVR...give me more reasons to start watching other shows with that time.

TV Gord's picture
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Jamey Giddens wrote:
I'm sure many a radio executive thought the same thing about that new-fangled doohickey, the television set back in the 50's.

That's an apples-and-oranges comparison, really, because back when television was first starting, there were only two options in home entertainment: radio and television. (I'm not counting checkers, playing cards, etc.) Today, there are all sorts of ways to be entertained, and they are all fragmenting the audience. That fragmentation is what led to the cancellations of many soaps in the first place.

The big question mark surrounding this whole venture is whether they can sustain it. They have investors who are pouring money into launching the online AMC and OLTL, but no one knows what sort of revenues they can count on to carry on beyond their initial run. Investors aren't going to be anxious to keep pouring money into something that isn't bringing enough money in. THAT is what I'm waiting to see. I hope it will have the revenues, but from a business perspective, I still can't see it.

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I'm still hopping this is successful as I still hang on to small hope that last line could mean Gl and atwt as possible options if these work out. I know can't happen I just still hope.

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None are so blind as those who will not see.

soapjunkie88's picture
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I think that expectations are high but they could really do fail miserably. They target a younger audience with the reboots of AMC and OLTL. Which of course is there only chance because I don't see much of the older generation sitting in front of a computer or whatever to watch these shows on a daily basis. And speaking about the younger audience ... you need to impress them so that they really are continue to watch. They need to attract new viewers; which won't be easy.

The people involved with AMC and OLTL have the more difficult job. For sure. I hope they succeed, but it won't be easy.

We haven't seen anything of these two shows, which makes it hard to compare them to the remaining network soap operas. I don't think you can really compare them though. Like I said, if they are going to be a success, I think they are going to have different audiences.

J Bernard Jones's picture
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TV GORD wrote

The big question mark surrounding this whole venture is whether they can sustain it. They have investors who are pouring money into launching the online AMC and OLTL, but no one knows what sort of revenues they can count on to carry on beyond their initial run. Investors aren't going to be anxious to keep pouring money into something that isn't bringing enough money in. THAT is what I'm waiting to see. I hope it will have the revenues, but from a business perspective, I still can't see it.

Exactly! Regardless of the ultimate quality of the shows (and my own intrigue about how these are not continuations, but actually brand new series), the constant whine and moaning I see from some fans online outright rejecting paying to watch the shows in any shape, form or fashion makes me very nervous for their futures. They will be free on Hulu.com, but many fans haven't seemed to have gotten that message (or through their heads yet), instead thinking that Hulu and HuluPlus are the same and outright rejecting purchasing episodes or season passes through iTunes. I can't imagine Prospect Park not pitching a plan to investors that didn't have a substantial direct user-generated revenue stream & subscription model based on all of those very passionate fans who lobbied for the return of these shows. Now I could be wrong and the mix of advertising revenue might be proportionately higher to subscription and pay-per-view revenue streams, but they are going to be looking at these numbers VERY closely.

And one other thing: the metrics of actual viewer measurement and audience engagement are going to be so much more accurate than when these shows (or, to be more precise, their old counterpart, parallel versions) were on tv. Instead of relying on Neilsen, they will know exactly how many people watched on Hulu & HuluPlus...exactly how many bought episodes & season passes on iTunes...and they sure as hell are going to be taking a much closer look at all the online uploads to YouTube and whatnot, bypassing their official streams.

So, in addition, the networks are going to be looking at how Prospect Park does, not just as competition but from a variety of other metrics, as well.

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I don't think there is anything to fear of these shows. With a cast picture like that above, I certainly won't be watching. I don't want to watch "children".

pferrando's picture
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I think that the superfans will be following the shows online. But remember their are "a lot" of soap viewers out there who don't interact with online sites, let alone know where to find or care to find Hulu.

I doubt highly that while they somehow can be profitable, I don't see them pulling in half of their previous audience.

Good luck to them. I'd like nothing more than to see ATWT brought back.

J Bernard Jones's picture
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tampon tammy wrote

With a cast picture like that above, I certainly won't be watching. I don't want to watch "children."

Not even on a show called All My Children...that has always had "children" in the title, has always featured "children", was built around parents and their "children" which is why it is actually called All My Children?

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They will be hits and network shows will be left in the dust. Long live amc and oltl

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I don't think the 4 remaining soaps need to worry. First off AMC and OLTL will be on demand and won't conflict with anyone who currently watches the remaining network soaps. Second I think Greg Meng is right soaps are about the writing and when shows do stuff for shock value it usually backfires. If you don't have a solid character driven story no matter how shocking the plot is viewers will tune out.

On another note has anyone here started watching the British soap Coronation Street on Hulu? I've been watching it since December and its really good, better than the four remaining current US soaps. It's much more down to Earth than the US soaps, no one is rich, the women don't look like models and the guys don't have 6 pack abs, and the stories and characters are much more developed than what we see on daytime tv in the US.

mfarris70's picture
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While I don't think that the networks have anything to fear from these shows, they may have a lot to learn from them. Assuming the new AMC and OLTL lives up to the hype that they themselves are perpetuating, we may see a sharp transition in the character of the network shows, much like when Y&R premiered and when Gloria Monty took over GH. A focus on younger characters and more socially relevant storylines. But from the snippets of storyline that we're getting from AMC and OLTL it sadly seems like the same old same old. It's all about the quality of the scripts and the quality of the performers and I have my doubts about both.

Nevertheless, I am anxious to see the reanimated AMC and OLTL and wish them the best of luck.

mfarris70's picture
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cheesehead91182 wrote:
On another note has anyone here started watching the British soap Coronation Street on Hulu? I've been watching it since December and its really good, better than the four remaining current US soaps. It's much more down to Earth than the US soaps, no one is rich, the women don't look like models and the guys don't have 6 pack abs, and the stories and characters are much more developed than what we see on daytime tv in the US.

I love the British soaps and you're absolutely right. But how can you change decades of pop culture that value beauty over brains and violence over character development?

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I think if the networks actually took a look at the British Soaps and the fact that they are still very popular while our soaps are on their last breath would make them realize that something needs to change. The soaps have been doing the same terrible crap since the late 90s and you can't expect different results when you keep doing the same old things. I think one of the networks should do an American version of Coronation Street.

Yoryla's picture
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I believe AMC and OLTL can prove to be quite successful. But I do not think the TV soaps have anything to be worried about in that respect.

The biggest thing the TV soap has to worry about is whether they have their networks behind them, or not.

I have to say, I agree with Meng and Kent about skepticism about them wanting to make the soaps "more racy". Majority of the soap audiences aren't interested in "racy" or "modern" - they want good, classic storytelling with legendary characters, families, sets, etc. The main recipe of, i.e. Y&R which has made it so successful over two decades. And if the point is not to attract the major soap audience, but to gain a newer, modern type of viewers, well then the end result may not be a "soap" anymore anyway. And the thing with modern, young audiences are, if they storm into something all excited, they may leave it just as quickly and move on to the next big thing. With that said, I do hope all the best for the online AMC and OLTL.

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I've always enjoyed the British soaps for what they were....

However, when it comes to AMC and OLTL...it's all a big question. These are basically like two brand new soaps airing online. No one can really say whether it will succeed or fail...so being cocky about it is irrelevant at this point. I think we should all keep our fingers crossed and hope they succeed.

The networks execs in my opinion should NOT keep their eye on the other soaps, because in reality, all the soaps are on an upswing. Do what works for THAT soap and don't try to conform to what AMC and OLTL are doing online. They can actually do racier content...I don't think the network shows should try that. I also don't think I'd like soaps like Y&R and B&B going the British Soap format, simply because majority of their characters are rich and that plays a big hand in the stories. I just think the soaps should be different. Have soaps about rich people, have soaps about regular normal people...let there be some variety.

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I love British soaps, too, and a lot of British tv. But we are talking about very different cultures in terms of Brit entertainment. If one is attuned to the vagaries of the Brit model, one can easily accept major actors and characters coming and going at will and as story dictates. The stigma around soap operas does not exist in the same way there that it does here, and actors — in the UK — are generally not perceived along stratified categories; they are just an actor. Finally, British soaps largely come from the Dickensian storytelling tradition, as opposed to the unique American style pioneered by Irna Phillips.

Ironically, the history of American soap operas is that they looked very much like their current British counterparts in some respects going back to the 60's and 70's, where class issues (especially on an emotional/aspirational level) dominated the storytelling landscape. Working and middle class families were prevalent, integral and in most cases central to all of the American soaps, just like their British counterparts. That all changed not in the 90's, but in the 80's when Gloria Monty took General Hospital into the realm of suspense, intrigued and larger than life, outrageous stories (and the other soaps followed) and the monster success of Dallas on CBS (which the other soaps as well as prime time tried to emulate). Poor, working and middle class characters & families fell out of favor and largely have been ever since, with few exceptions.

The question here is whether current American audiences would accept a soap like Ryan's Hope (revered, but little watched when it was on); would they welcome back the Brooks & Fosters to Y&R; the middle class Frames of Another World; the rural drenched Snyders of ATWT, the Tylers of AMC or Polish, hardworking Woleks of OLTL. I don't know if they would or want to or would know what to do with them if they did.

What's been missing from American soaps for two decades or longer has less to do with the prevalence of beautiful people or violence and more to do with the disappearance of people of different classes, struggling both against and in concert with each other. That's where the down to earth, "relatable" aspects of American soaps were always rooted and could get to again without having to necessarily emulate the British model.

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There's nothing wrong PP's idea; just the content. It's hard to see younger audiences (the demographic they hope to reach) flocking to an old soap opera called "One Life to Live".

mfarris70's picture
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'Ryan's Hope' was so good when it was simple storytelling about the Ryans and their friends. But when Luke and Laura took off, every ABC show was ordered to follow suit and it killed what was good about RH.

Luke's picture
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It's gonna come down to quality. And of course whether that translate into viewership and eventually profit. But the quality is gonna have to be high quality

TV Gord's picture
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I don't buy into the idea that older people aren't web-savvy. I know people well into their 70s who are on Facebook, showing off pictures of their children and their grandchildren to friends and family around the world. They watch shows online, too. I'm sure there are still some Grampa Simpsons out there, who only want to watch Matlock on their giant cube of a TV, but that doesn't mean he's the norm anymore.

In reading this interesting discussion from all of you, I think content is going to be a tricky thing to work out. It has to be edgy enough to draw in younger viewers, but not so edgy/racy that it drives away longtime viewers who don't want to see that sort of thing.

I'm reminded of the first episode of the current 90210 series (which ends this season), when one of the main characters "went down" on her boyfriend in his car before classes started. That may work for the teens and 20-somethings, but may alienate viewers who don't want to see that.

It will be interesting to see which choices they make in this first season. Even though they aren't on a network, they will still feel the pressures of trying to attract as broad an audience as possible.

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Have there been any further developments for a (cable) network to buy the series and air the episodes after they premiere online?

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I love, love love Coronation Street. It's so refreshing to watch great developed storylines and characters and not picture perfect actors. So far the soaps trying to reel in the "young folk" has just back fired badly with us now down to 4 network soaps. Watch Youtube for old episodes of Edge of Night. If only we could return to that level of story telling. The AMC network motto of "Where story comes first" is certainly something that's been successful for them.

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TV Gord wrote:

I don't buy into the idea that older people aren't web-savvy. I know people well into their 70s who are on Facebook, showing off pictures of their children and their grandchildren to friends and family around the world. They watch shows online, too. I'm sure there are still some Grampa Simpsons out there, who only want to watch Matlock on their giant cube of a TV, but that doesn't mean he's the norm anymore.

I don't buy into that argument, either. In fact, I think there are far more older web users and people online that is generally accepted to be the case.

MY furstrations have nothing to do with age or even demographic for that matter. What I've seen since the AMC/OLTL announcements have gone out have been wide range of people of all ages, races and genders going on and on about how they refuse to watch unless Prospect Park puts them on TV; how they don't refuse to watch online but will if they are put on Youtube; refusing to watch because they are not an hour or they didn't bring back XYZ actor or character and how these shows are nothing but shit without them. A lot of this comes across as pure whining and selfishness ("I want MY soap the way I want it or I'm not going to watch! so there!) in my opinion.

There is another subset that seems completely confused about how to watch the shows. Whether this confusion is to be expected (because not everyone knew this information prior) or self-imposed (because they are reacting against the very notion of paying any kind of fee, even though they don't have to) is unclear. But I have had and witnessed conversation after conversation, arguments actually spring up about this from people who are imparting the correct information with those who refuse to believe or accept it. This isn't an age thing, but more of a "this is uncharted territory thing so I'm kinda lost" thing.

(The whole "I won't watch it online, but I will if you put it on YouTube" argument simply cracks me up every time.)

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They should model after some of the Hispanic / Latino soaps. They are very hot and steamy and sexy. And, they are highly successful.

I'm hoping they do well.

J Bernard Jones's picture
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Watch Youtube for old episodes of Edge of Night. If only we could return to that level of story telling.

The Edge of Night was at the top of the pinnacle of daytime drama, but it was a crime drama/mystery/suspense series first and foremost, not the kind of earthy, "real" kind of drama that has been at the forefront of this conversation...although it was more "real" than much of daytime.

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Chris Goutman was going around Hollywood pitching a primetime version of Edge of Night a few years back, according to my sources.

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I agree with you. I'm almost 50 and have a TV tuner card in my 27 inch all in one computer, so whether I'm watching over the air TV or streaming doesn't really matter to me. In my situation, I can't tell the difference. With Roku boxes and Blue Ray streaming I think more people will turn to streaming and hopefully these two soaps will help pave the way for that. That being said, what I notice most of all in the comments is the feeling of fear of being left out. They're not gonna have my character, my age group, can't watch on computer blah blah blah. I started watching AMC and OLTL in 1977 and just hope the stories are good. I have witnessed the demise of soaps with the youth brigade. I just hope they can balance it well like General Hospital has done so very well.