Deep Soap: Plans To Move Soaps Online Canceled

Susan Lucci on All My Children (ABC)

Susan Lucci on All My Children (ABC)

Update: Prospect Park has officially canceled its plans to continue “All My Children” and “One Life To Live” on-line. The production company released a lengthy statement, authored by the company’s founders Jeff Kwatinetz and Rich Frank, explaining its decision.

“After five months of negotiations with various guilds, hundreds of presentations to potential financial and technology partners, and a hope that we could pioneer a new network for the future, it is with great disappointment that we are suspending our aspirations to revive “One Life to Live” and “All My Children” via online distribution.  It is now becoming clear that mounting issues make our ability to meet our deadlines to get OLTL on the air in a reasonable time period following its January 13, 2012 ABC finale impossible…”

The statement goes on to say, “We believed the timing was right to launch an Online TV Network anchored by these two iconic soap operas, but we always knew it would be an uphill battle to create something historical, and unfortunately we couldn’t ultimately secure the backing and clear all the hurdles in time… In the end, the constraints of the current marketplace, including the evolution and impact of new media in our industry simply proved too great a match for even our passion.” The statement goes on to thank the actors,writers and producers who signed on to the on-line venture and the fans for their support.

Fans and actors took to Twitter to express their feelings about the demise of “All My Children” and “One Life To Live.” Former “As The World Turns” star Martha Byrne, who created the web series “Gotham,” looked at the situation from a business perspective: “Here’s the deal..Under the current structure of daytime financially it would never have worked online. It’s not profitable.” Daytime Confidential’s Jamey Giddens tweeted, “ABC owes us at the very least a pair of two-house AMC and OLTL movies to wrap things up.”  A cynical Soaps In Depth editor remarked, “Frankly, if ABC is going to can #GH they should rip the bandage off and tell us. Get all the mourning outta the way at once.” GH’s Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) spoke for a lot of people who work in daytime and are concerned about their future: “kinda like throwing a line to a drowning victim and then yanking it away just as they have hope of being saved.” Kristen Alderson, who plays Starr on OLTL summed it up: “Extremely sad sad news… No #prospectpark deal for AMC or OLTL. So many lives affected by this… #RIPoltl

For ABC soap fans, there is little reason to be thankful this Thanksgiving. Deadline reports that, as rumored last week, production company Prospect Park is about to abandon its ambitious plans to continue the canceled ABC soaps “All My Children” and “One Life To Live” online.

The web versions of the soaps were initially scheduled to debut in January 2012 on the production’s company’s planned entertainment site, The On-Line Network. Earlier this month, news broke that the company was postponing the launch of “All My Children” due to funding difficulties and focusing on the higher rated “One Life To Live.” Though Prospect Park issued numerous press releases touting the signing of numerous “One Life To Live” cast members including Erika Slezak, Michael Easton and Tuc Watkins, as well as its executive producer Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati, as well as a partnership with Universal Music, there was never a firm launch date.

Deadline reports that the company had difficulty making deals with the entertainment unions, which have yet to establish a payment scale for full length on-line television programming. Allegedly the unions wanted Prospect Park to keep salaries at broadcast levels, which was prohibitively expensive given that advertisers pay much less for time on internet series than they do for television spots. The company may officially pull the plug as soon as today.

The timing could not be worse. “OLTL” shot its final ABC episode last week, making it impossible to change the series ending. “AMC” ended on a cliffhanger at Prospect Park’s request, meaning the fans will never have a satisfying conclusion to the show they watched for over 40 years. Though details of “OLTL’s” finale have not been revealed, it seems likely that it did not end with everyone living happily ever after. Fans and the cast and crews essentially have had to live through the cancellation of their beloved shows twice.

According to Deadline, “Prospect Park self-financed extensive research and its principals held dozens of meetings with potential investors for their Online Network.” The company, which produces the cable hits “Royal Pains” and “Wilfred” but has no experience with daytime dramas, seemed surprised at how difficult it was to line up financing and establish completely new, precedent setting deals with all of the entertainment unions. Deadline claims that the company is still trying to find a last minute solution, but Prospect Park’s prospects seem to be growing dimmer by the second.

Watch the latest episode of “One Life to Live”:

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