Magazine article Variety

Online Soaps an Intriguing Prospect

Magazine article Variety

Online Soaps an Intriguing Prospect

Article excerpt

Digital revivals of All My Children and One Life to Live are poised to be game changers, but predictions vary on their potential By Michael Mahoney

Agnes nixon's socially relevant serials AH My Children and One Life to Live were groundbreaking in content when they debuted on ABC over 40 years ago.

Now, those same programs, which the Alphabet net canceled in 2011, stand poised to chart new territory - as business models for online programming - when they return with fresh episodes starting April 29.

Production company Prospect Park has licensed the serials from ABC and will present them on Hulu Plus, iTunes and Prospect Park's own network, dubbed the Online Network (toln.com).

"A while back, Jeff (Kwatinetz, my business partner) and I started to believe that the world was about to change in terms of how viewers receive their programs," says Rich Frank of Prospect Park. "Almost 20% of college graduates don't buy television sets. Today, there's the ability to feed anything to anybody's screen - TV, iPad, or telephone - and give them programming that they want."

While the two canceled serials were no longer wanted by ABC, Frank and Kwatinetz felt that the programs could serve as the foundation for an entire online network.

"At first, we had trouble explaining what we were trying to do, and we couldn't make the deals," Frank says. "After a year of (people) being out of work, there was a lot more openness to it. The guilds worked with us."

There's buzz that the new versions of Children and Life will outpace their broadcast counterparts in terms of provocative material, in order to capture new and younger viewers.

"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."

But online soaps may find it challenging to do eye-grabbing material that's more timely and provocative than what broadcast serials are already providing. …

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