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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Soap Box: Special Edition May 16, 2013


I didn’t have anything planned for today and was expecting to work on a Friday Focus & Sunday Share, but then something popped up that I thought would take up a post on its own. So I give you a special Soap Box.

Earlier today The Online Network issued a lengthy statement that in the end dictated that they are reducing the number of new episodes of All My Children (AMC) and One Life To Live (OLTL) it airs each week on Hulu and via download from iTunes.

The shows rebooted on April 29, 2013 with four half hour episodes that ran Monday through Thursday each week. A cut from five one hour episodes when they were on ABC. That is a lot in soap land. It is three hours of viewing , of storytelling each week. Both shows wanted to come back with a bang and they threw so much story at viewers. In three weeks not one story has been resolved and now it looks as though it will take twice as long with cutting the new episodes to one hour per week!

The statement throws around the big demo words, percentages and shares. It has been three weeks today of new episodes. Most people are unable to watch during the day and have to settle for nightly or weekend viewing. During that time they are competing with prime time television. Prime time is airing season finales this week and into next. So why didn’t/doesn’t the Online Network wait to see the trends? My Hulu viewing picks up during  the summer with the lack of regular prime time new series/episodes. I would imagine there are more people out there who do that as well.

From comments on their facebook posting for both shows, fans are more than happy to sit through a marathon viewing on the weekends. It is two hours per show, the same amount of time as a decent movie.

Perhaps the lack of viewership isn’t even related to time constraints but to the quality of the writing. It is blatantly obvious that the writers are not the same caliber as the previous network writers. There are unexplained time jumps, secrets that the audience is not privy to, lapses in continuity, and a dependence on adult language and semi-nudity. New characters have been thrust in, new actors taking over beloved roles. It is easy to see that this came together in a short time. Stories were hastily written, casting appears to be first come, first serve, sets are new and unrecognizable. It all screams, “We were not ready”.

I find it hard to believe that this sudden change is based solely on viewership numbers. Three weeks is not enough time to gain a foothold. You have to give the audience more time than on network to find you and be able to sit down and watch. Perhaps they should have conducted research on how many homes that viewed the shows on network have access to online streaming before launching.

It feels as though they are phasing the shows out and calling it quits. What happens in another three weeks when viewership doesn’t increase? They cancel the shows. So those viewers who came back are once again left without closure. 

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