Scuttlebutt is growing that fans of ABC Daytime soap operas are in for quite the season of change as not two, but likely all three Mouse House sudsers begin to transition to web series over the next year and a half. I'm hearing from multiple sources that General Hospital, the only daytime soap set to continue on ABC beyond January 2012, is part of the licensing pact that production company Prospect Park signed with ABC.
"Prospect Park has a deal in place that gives them the same rights to General Hospital that they have with All My Children and One Life to Live, once GH ends its run on television," says a source.
While ABC has maintained they have no plans to cancel General Hospital, with Katie Couric's talk show slated for next fall, the network's daytime lineup losing an hour to affiliates to facilitate said debut and ABC planning to premiere The Chew and The Revolution in September and January respectively, GH doesn't have a confirmed timeslot post September 2012. All of which has been previously reported.
"Even if one of the new shows ABC is premiering fails, everyone knows this is General Hospital's last year," an insider states. "The moment ABC cancels GH, Prospect Park's rights to broadcast the show for 10 years kicks in, just like with the other two shows."
Speaking of those other soaps, Prospect Park's lack of communication with the cast of All My Children— which wraps production next month and is set to air last on ABC this Sept. 23—has whipped the set of the L.A.-based sudser into a frenzy.
"Some people are excited, others not so much," says one actor. "Really people just want to know what the hell is going on? We have lives and careers to plan for."
From what I've gathered, what's "going on" is there is unfortunately no way Prospect Park can make good on previously reported plans to start airing All My Children online just three days following the ABC finale. In fact, the online version of the long-running sudser likely won't premiere until January 2012.
"The New York Post story [which broke the deal to move the shows online] took Prospect Park by surprise," explains one insider. "As people are now seeing, things weren't quite in place. They plan on making a go of [taking the soaps online], but the leaks have had them scrambling to adjust their plans."
According to my sources, Prospect Park is now asking All My Children's head writer Lorraine Broderick and creator Agnes Nixon to end the serial's network run with a life-or-death cliffhanger, where the audience won't know who in Pine Valley lives or dies.
"That way, if certain actors decide not to do the show, it can be readily explained when the new show debuts alongside One Life to Live next year on the web," says the setsider.
Despite all the growing pains associated with the ABC soaps moving online, many in the know remain optimistic.
"In the short run, the fact that some popular stars might not go with the shows will piss off fans, but this is still a win for the soap opera genre," says one mole. "The very fact that someone is willing to keep these shows going with all the bad press soaps have been getting is something to celebrate. We just have to wait and see if they [Prospect Park] can make it happen."
Keep checking back with Daytime Confidential as this industry redefining story continues.