Sorry, soap fans: The painful economics of running daytime dramas on the internet have made it impossible to keep the shows alive after they’ve been yanked off of broadcast TV. Prospect Park announced today that its hope to move One Life to Life and All My Children to a planned Online Network in 2012 has been shuttered, dashing any hope of keeping Llanview and Pine Valley fans satiated.
The media and production company founded in 2009 by Jeffrey Kwatinetz and former Disney Studios head Rich Frank was unable to reach guild deals to make the soaps’ run on the internet a reality. Arrangements with the unions were necessary if Prospect Park wanted to also sell the soaps to cable, but it’s economically unfeasible to pay guild wages for an internet show that would generate a fraction of the revenue it once did on ABC.
As it was, Prospect Park was already having a dilly of a time closing deals with the AMC actors (hey, Susan Lucci!), so it had to delay the show’s planned return in January: Only Cameron Mathison (Ryan Lavery) and Lindsay Hartley (Dr. Cara Castillo Martin) had agreed to continue after it ended its ABC run in September. In contrast, OLTL’s Erika Slezak (Victoria Lord), along with Ted King (Tomas Delgado), Michael Easton (John McBain) and Kassie DePaiva (Blair Cramer), among others, has closed deals to stay in the fictitious town of Llanview after it sunsetted on ABC this January.
The company released this statement: “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 Jan. 13, 2012 ABC finale impossible.
“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. We believe we exhausted all reasonable options apparent to us, but despite enormous personal, as well as financial cost to ourselves, we failed to find a solution.
“While we narrowed in on a financial infrastructure, the contractual demands of the guilds, which regulate our industry, coupled with the program’s inherent economic challenges ultimately led to this final decision. In the end, the constraints of the current marketplace, including the evolution and impact of new media on our industry simply proved too great a match for even our passion.
“In our opinion, new models like this can only work with the cooperation of many people striving to make them happen, and we would like to thank and praise the numerous people who tried to help and showed us incredible support. We are extremely grateful to the fans and media who showed great support to us through this process, to ABC who did everything in their control to help, and we are especially grateful for the support and encouragement from many of the soaps’ cast and crew themselves.
“We hope that our efforts are not lost, and that we somehow created a dialogue and movement on the feasibility of first run, network quality content online. Of special note, we would like to thank Frank Valentini (Executive Producer), Ron Carlivati (Head Writer of OLTL), Agnes Nixon, many of the cast of OLTL including Michael Easton, Ted King, Kelley Missal, Melissa Archer, and of course Erika Slezak all of whom signed on quickly and did all they could to help, as well as our own Christine Sacani. Cameron Mathison and Lindsay Hartley also get our sincerest thanks for their support. We feel terrible we couldn’t come through for them and we were very much looking forward to working together.”
The Writers Guild followed with a brief statement of its own: “We were disappointed to learn that Prospect Park’s financing fell through. Prior to the end of last week, we were close to a fair deal for the writers.”
Now fans will have to mourn the death of AMC and OLTL all over again, after ABC made the heartbreaking announcement in April that it was yanking the serials due to the changing economics of daytime TV. The soaps were replaced with the (cheaper-to-make and easier to monetize) lifestyle shows The Chew and The Revolution.
At the time of Prospect Park’s purchase of the soaps in July, Frank and Kwatinetz released this very optimistic statement: “We are privileged to continue the legacy of two of the greatest programs to air on daytime television, and are committed to delivering the storylines, characters and quality that audiences have come to love for over 40 years. All My Children and One Life to Live are television icons, and we are looking forward to providing anytime, anywhere viewing to their loyal community of millions. Technology changes the way the public can and will view television shows. Now that there are so many devices available in addition to television sets, viewers are taking advantage of watching shows where ever they are and on any number of devices.”