We're seeing a ton of theories pop up about why soaps are dying, with everything from FarmVille to Snooki being blamed. While most of those ponderings have kernels of truth, Fancast's Sara Bibel has presented one of the most compelling arguments I've seen, asking the question if ABC-Disney's failure to syndicate their soaps internationally could have sealed Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) and Dorian Lord's (Robin Strasser) fates?
“Days” currently airs in Australia, South Africa, Turkey, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Greece and Belize. Y&R airs in Australia, Belgium, Belize, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, India, Israel, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, and Switzerland. B&B airs pretty much everywhere on earth.
In contrast, “All My Children” can only be seen in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. OLTL – always the redheaded step-child – only airs in Canada. I do not know whether Disney did not put as much effort into selling its soaps internationally as Sony and Bell-Phillips did, or if the ABC shows are, for some reason, less appealing to international buyers. But it makes a big difference in the revenues that the shows generate. Sony earns millions of dollars each year from the international broadcasts of Y&R and DOOL, which is a major reason why the studio has fought hard to keep its shows on the air.
Bibel goes on to report that while Sony and the Bells make millions off their shows overseas, NBC and CBS don't make as much cheddar from foreign sales, since they don't own those soaps. ABC, however owns their three soaps outright.
So basically, if ABC Daytime Chief Brian Frons, who has vast experience with the international television market from his time as a programming big wig in London, had spent more time trying to sell AMC, OLTL and General Hospital abroad, as opposed to trying unsuccessfully to morph SOAPnet into the "Carrie Network", maybe we wouldn't be losing our soaps, and more importantly, Disney could have been netting millions of dollars in additional revenue?