April 29--Nearly two years after being canceled by the ABC network, soap operas "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" have been brought back to life on the Web.
The two daytime dramas made their online debut Monday on the video site Hulu and Apple's iTunes store. In a sign of the shows' persistent appeal among fans, the soaps quickly bubbled up in the rankings of most popular TV shows offered by the two services.
ABC canceled the programs in 2011 because they were becoming too expensive to produce, particularly as the median age of the audience marched past the 55-year mark, and advertisers became less interested in the format. The increasing use of digital video recorders also hurt. The devices allowed legions of loyal fans to watch their favorite stories, even if they worked during the daytime, but enabled the viewers to fast-forward through the commercials.
Enter Prospect Park, a Los Angeles-based production company headed by Rich Frank, a former chairman of Walt Disney Studios, and ex-talent manager Jeff Kwatinetz. The company secured rights to make Web versions of the show in a bet that the passion of the audience for such legacy programs continues to have financial value.
So far, such high-profile actors as Susan Lucci (the temptress Erica Kane of "All My Children" fame for four decades) have yet to sign on for the new versions. To entice younger viewers, Prospect Park introduced younger characters including Jenni "Jwoww" Farley from MTV's "Jersey Shore" as a bartender on "One Life to Live."
The challenge for Prospect Park will be to recruit advertisers and younger viewers while still delivering compelling stories about veteran characters that a majority of the audience grew to love. In addition, many older viewers are not as technologically savvy and might be less inclined to make the leap to Internet services.
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