News Column

Soap fans get another chance on Oprah Winfrey Network

July 12, 2013

YellowBrix

The journey from broadcast TV to online has been a rocky one for "One Life to Live" and "All My Children," including a reduction in the number of episodes made each week. But it has been even rockier for many longtime fans of the soaps who either did not have online access or had not mastered the whole TV-on-the-Internet thing.

Those viewers will get at least some short-term relief beginning Monday _ if they have cable or a dish, and their channels package includes OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network. The channel will offer telecasts of the first 40 episodes in the online version, which began in April on Hulu, Hulu Plus and iTunes.

For the next 10 weeks, "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" will air Monday through Thursday on OWN. There's been a little confusion about telecast times, but here's what an OWN rep told me this week: On Monday and Tuesday of next week, three episodes of "AMC" will air from noon to 1:30 p.m. The third episode will then repeat at 1:30 p.m. "OLTL" will follow, with three episodes airing from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Then the third episode will repeat at 3:30. Then, beginning Wednesday, "All My Children" will be at 1 p.m. and "One Life to Live" at 3 p.m., and those will be their time slots on Monday through Thursday for the rest of the shows' OWN runs.

"We are really excited to bring OWN viewers and our audience at large an opportunity to catch up on 'All My Children' and 'One Life to Live' on traditional television," said a statement from Jeff Kwatinetz, CEO of Prospect Park Networks, the company behind the new versions of the shows. "We look forward to our millions of fans enjoying the first 40 episodes of the shows."

First of all, I'm old enough to love the idea that cable _ especially nosebleed-section channels _ is now thought of as "traditional television." But this does seem to be a good sign for viewers for whom these two soaps were a real tradition.

Monday, after all, is the 45th anniversary of the premiere of "One Life to Live." And "All My Children" is almost as old, having begun on Jan. 5, 1970. When ABC decided in 2011 to drop the two soaps, one executive said, "Viewers are looking for different types of programming these days." Not that ABC knew exactly what that programming was. When it dropped the soaps, it added two lifestyle shows, "The Chew," which is still on, and "The Revolution," which lasted only six months. In fact, its failure may have saved "General Hospital," which moved into "The Revolution's" time slot as ABC was making room for individual stations to air "Katie," its syndicated Katie Couric show.

Still, the cancellation of "OLTL" and "AMC" also made clear that ABC thought the audience for the soaps was getting old _ too old, in many cases, to appeal to its advertisers. But lamentation came from a lot of those viewers who had grown up _ and yes, in some cases, grown old _ while following the events in Pine Valley and Llanview.

So the show's fans had better turn out in force for the OWN telecasts. You know who you are. Maybe if enough of you do, OWN or another cable network can persuade Prospect Park that the shows have a place in some kind of "traditional" TV.

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Rich Heldenfels: rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com

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(c)2013 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com

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