- Posted November 4, 2011 by
Los Angeles, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
What are you watching?
November 3, 2011
It has been almost four months since the July 7th, 2011 announcement by Disney/ABC that the iconic 40+ year soap operas All My Children and One Life to Live had been exclusively licensed to a little known production company, Prospect Park. This announcement came after the April 14th, 2011 Disney/ABC announcement cancelling the long-running shows.
On August 30, 2011, the All My Children cast and crew filmed their final scenes. On September 23, 2011, All My Children aired on Disney/ABC for the last time. While Disney/ABC heavily promoted its replacement show, Prospect Park remained silent. On November 18, 2011, One Life to Live will film its last scenes with a final air date in mid-January 2012.
Through it all, the only information Prospect Park has released directly to the public is that Union/Guild negotiations were taking longer than expected, air dates could be affected, and a new Chief Technology Officer was hired. Then The Online Network (TOLN) (http://theonlinenetwork.com/) was announced. Prospect Park deemed TOLN as future home of All My Children and One Life to Live when they are produced online. The TOLN internet site is a static (non-changing) page with entry fields for a name and either email address or cell phone number to receive updates on the network. The only problem is there are no updates, just the same static page, all the time collecting information.
Usually when inaccuracies are spread, there are statements made to set the record straight. Prospect Park has chosen a different approach, one aligned with the Disney/ABC policy of simply not responding.
Since July 7th, near daily rumors, innuendos, and speculation have surfaced regarding the shows, their casts, crews, studios, schedules, and air dates. Some soap sites keep scores like baseball rosters of who has signed, who has been approached, and who hasn’t. Tweets have become the gospel word, setting off firestorms of articles, blogs, discussions, posts, and further speculation. By the time a Tweet has been repeated in print two or three times, it has lost its providence and becomes truth.
Even Soap fan groups that blindly extolled Prospect Park as the savior of these shows and the soap genre in July are now questioning Prospect Park and its intentions with certain actors and characters. These groups for months vehemently criticized those who questioned Prospect Park. Now they are not only questioning Prospect Park but are bombarding them to voice their concerns, not over whether the shows will survive, but whether their favorite actors will be hired.
Some of the rumors, innuendos and speculation include statements that unions and actors are dragging their feet to make deals with Prospect Park. Actors and unions have been accused not only of holding up negotiations but of being a potential reason for the entire licensing agreement to fail.
In an article published Nov 3rd, 2011 on the Wall Street Journal Digital Network (http://allthingsd.com/20111103/can-one-life-to-live-get-new-life-on-the-web-heres-the-pitch/?reflink=ATD_yahoo_ticker) and linked on the Yahoo Stock Ticker app, author Peter Kafka reveals that Prospect Park principal Jeff Kwatinetz has been shopping for investors in the two shows. Mr Kafka shares slides from a deck Mr Kwatinetz has been using in his pitch. He also shares that Prospect Park is still seeking funding for the All My Children/One Life to Live projects with little success. It seems if project funding is not in place after four months since the deal was made public, actors and unions are not actually the roadblocks to these shows going online.
Mr Kafka goes on to run through Mr Kwatinetz’ investor pitch – all cost, audience, and revenue-centric.
Cost: $145,000,000. There are $65,000,000 in startup costs plus $40,000,000 for first-year production costs of All My Children and $40,000,000 for first-year production cost of One Life to Live.
Audience: 500,000 target. Mr Kwatinetz is shooting for 10% of the reported Disney/ABC 5 million viewers the two shows drew on network television, to make a profit.
Revenue: Web TV Portal ala Hulu. The expectation is that Prospect Park will be able to charge a $40 CPM advertising rate when existing portals are offering a much more robust catalog to choose from. If Prospect Park is adopting a Hulu model, there will also likely be a monthly subscription fee ala Hulu to view the shows.
Mr Kafka closes his piece with the observation that Jeff “Kwatinetz would like to have his shows up and running as soon as ‘One Life to Live’ ends in mid-January, but unless he starts very soon, it will be hard to hit that deadline.”
For fans of these shows it is a no-brainer to pitch this project. However, this is by no means an attractive endeavor if you do not understand the phenomenon of the soap genre or a soap opera fan. Soapers are loyal, long-term viewers who will support those who support them. They are tenacious, resilient, and willing to put their consumer dollars where their loyalties lie. Treated with respect this group could be Prospect Park’s most valuable asset because it is the gift that keeps on giving. Soapers buy based on loyalties.
Mr Kwatinetz, Mr Frank, and Prospect Park have the Soap Movement at their disposal yet they choose not to engage them. It is stupefying that these are the very people that are expected to patronize and support Prospect Park’s online venture. It would seem that a 10% audience goal does not require much of Prospect Park’s attention or interest.
In spite of the lack of engagement, over the past few months some soap fan groups have been tirelessly campaigning on Prospect Park’s behalf. They have been bombarding advertisers asking them to support Prospect Park with ad and/or product placements. They are also bombarding cable television stations on Prospect Park’s behalf to air the two iconic shows. They have come up with innovative ways to monetize the franchises. Their efforts are methodical and unrelenting.
The Soap Movement began long before April 14, 2011 but it was catalyzed on that day. There are millions of fans ready to help Prospect Park but it is not about budgets, audiences, or revenue. It is about having the respect to have a dialog with your potential future customers. That’s what investors want to know about – where is their return. It is not on paper. It is in actual, not projected, viewership. Soapers represent that viewership. They are a determined group that crosses all ethnic, religious, social, gender, and age boundaries with a vested interest in Prospect Park’s success. The relationship merely needs Prospect Park’s participation.
Time is quickly closing the window of opportunity for Mr Kwatinetz, Mr Frank, and Prospect Park. It might surprise them to find what powerful, determined, resourceful allies Soapers are. Engaging with them could lead to financial opportunities not yet considered. It might also signal to potential investors bonafide evidence that Prospect Park can work with its potential viewers and have a supportive, symbiotic, successful and profitable relationship.
Source: Can “One Life to Live” Get New Life on the Web? Here’s the Pitch:, Peter Kafka, the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, Nov 3, 2011