The Greatest Unsolved Soap Opera Mystery NEVER TOLD…
Disney Sits On A Gold Mine
ABC/Disney owns the rights to its vast catalog of soap operas. This includes every episode of General Hospital (and One Life To Live, All My Children, Port Charles, Loving, The City, and Ryan’s Hope) and owns two streaming services, Hulu and Disney+. It doesn’t offer any of this extensive library in any way, shape, or form is a travesty. It’s almost like Disney/ABC would rather avoid doing anything to justify increasing the budget from $45 million each year to produce the soap (which it makes a profit on). Are you seriously telling me that a library of 50,000 episodes that can be packaged and repackaged for holidays and anniversaries, sold internationally, used to cash in on former soaps stars when they make the news could not add 100 million a year to the bottom line? This is the greatest unsolved soap opera mystery of our generation,
Missed Opportunties To Make Easy Cash
The most challenging thing about soap operas is getting into the story. That no attempts to stream compilation clip shows to get people up to date is a systemic failure by Disney/ABC (and CBS and NBC). You could literally print the recaps of episodes the network provided soap magazines as show bibles. People would buy them. They offered the soap magazines thousands and thousands of photos- make some digital books or place them on advertiser-laden galleries online. There is a market out there.
Another missed opportunity is this idea: hour-long weekly recaps hosted by a panel of rotating cast members. The cast members know the stories, the characters’ motivations and would likely jump at the chance. They love what they do; let them go up there in front of a studio audience and explain their character’s journey. Viewers can submit questions via Twitter, and cast members can answer them. ABC and CBS could just air them as the Friday editions of The View and The Talk all year round. This would allow both shows to air new episodes all year-round instead of the 10 weeks of reruns. Once again, it’s dirt cheap and basically is free money in the long run.
SoapNet Couldn’t Last (As A Cable Network)
I get why SoapNet ended. The business model was flawed because DVR negated the necessity for airing same-day repeats of the soap opera. Except, since SoapNEt aired pretty much every soap opera when it folded- why didn’t the networks lobby Nielsen to count the same-day ratings like they did DVR-airings? Towards the end of their run, All My Children and One Life To Live were pulling in an additional 20 percent of viewers each night. The primetime airings of Y&R and DAYS added just as many viewers for CBS and NBC; they would have had the incentive to encourage the move.
Passions and Port Charles Would Have Blown Up
Think about Port Charles and Passions, two canceled soap operas which performed best among younger viewers, and both had similar sci-fi, fantasy elements. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that those two soaps airing back to back in early primetime every day or in marathons on the weekend would have been discovered by their target audiences and grown into actual hits. I didn’t like either series when they were on- but even then, I would be hard-pressed not to watch a marathon of these shows. And now I would kill to stream Passions from start to finish.
SoapNet Invented Binge-Watching
That’s another thing: SoapNet’s weekend marathons. The original selling point to viewers and the cable carriers outside of the primetime re-airings of the weekday episodes were the 5- hour marathon blocks. The binge-watching phenomenon had begun with DVDs and shifted over to streaming in the late 2000s into the early 2010s. SoapNet stumbled on the phenomenon a decade earlier. The network was giving millions of viewers a taste of daytime, some viewers their only taste, with an entire week condensed into an afternoon. And it was all filled with commercials, so it was practically free money for Disney.
How did the network capitalize on the binge-watching concept it inadvertently pioneered. The company stood idly by while SoapNet replaced them with reruns of primetime soaps that had to be purchased from other studios/networks. Some were expensive packages of long-ended hits like Melrose Place and 90210. Both previously had failed in syndication, but most were failed soaps that barely made it through a season.
Disney Set Money on Fire By Airing Less Daytime Soaps on SoapNet
Doesn’t it make more sense to give the well-known IP that you own the additional airtime to grow audience awareness while continuing to earn advertising revenue? A scenario with absolutely no financial downside and considerable potential upside. Or does it make sense to buy the rights to air reruns of another company’s failed programming? If successful, the original producer would make new episodes and leave you no other way to capitalize on it in the best-case scenario.
If reruns of the FOX soap opera ‘Skin,’ a modern-day Romeo and Juliet story set among rival porn-production houses (seriously, Disney- this was on-brand for SoapNet more than daytime soaps), somehow miraculously pulled in millions of 18-34-year-olds, what would have happened? FOX would have yanked the repeats, put the show back into production, and aired it against ABC’s programming. Disney would have been feeding a competitor and starving its own product.
UNSOLVED SOAP OPERA MYSTERY: WHY ISN’T THERE A SOAP STREMING SERVICE?
Every passing year, Disney sits on top of the treasure trove of soap opera history. A horde of television gold, during an era of peak media consumption when product is scarce, viewers have more methods than ever to watch content and are showing a desire to do so. All the company has to do is slap the SoapNet name on a menu on Hulu or Disney Plus or even do its own additional subscription service (although I think we pay enough for F🤬🤬🤬’s sake.
Why does Disney hate soap operas? What did the soaps ever do? Do they cause cancer or something? Have they offended Mickey? Do the soaps they own collectively have racist social media accounts? Has the soap opera genre Jeffrey Epstein-ed countless viewers? This is the greatest unsolved soap opera mystery of our generation- no, it’s the biggest mystery, EVER. There’s something they aren’t telling us, people. Demand answers!
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