Archive for the ‘Soap Opera Future’ Category

Ken Auletta: The Future of Online Original Content

August 16, 2014

I had previously posted Ken Auletta: Writer Liberation and the Decline of Broadcast about Auletta’s theory that the future of dramas lies in new distribution units where they model themselves on chapters you would read in a novel rather than the limited controlled doses given out by broadcast networks. In this entry, he examines how each of the three current new direct distribution systems and talks about how they are changing the marketplace.

Description from the YouTube page:

Transcript – Amazon, YouTube and Netflix have three different models. They do original content but they do it in a different way. In Netflix’s case most of their content is not original. Only roughly two percent of their budget is originals but they’re increasingly spending more money. House of Cards they made 100 million dollar commitment for two seasons but now they’ve just signed to go to a third season of that and they’ve got some other original programs like Orange is the New Black and some others. What Amazon has done is the different model there is they basically said if you spend $79 a year to get free delivery of any Amazon product we will throw in free video. So you can watch movies or some of the original Gary Trudeau series they’ve just done, some of the originals like that that you can do.

But essentially it’s — you’re not an individual subscriber. Netflix you’re paying $8, you know, a month to be a Netflix subscriber. And Amazon you’re paying the $79 for delivery. And we don’t know and they don’t tell you how many of them are watching video. Amazon’s very secretive about its numbers. But in a way what they’re doing is what they did with the Kindle or with books. They subsidize. They give things at a low price to you in order to get you into their store to buy other things. And they’ve been very successful. What YouTube does — still another model — they moved away from user generated content.

But increasingly they’re trying to produce more professional content. It tends to be of shorter form, you know, quicker shows, et cetera. But they are buying product, as is Verizon and AT&T and some others. So there’s a lot of competition in that space. And increasingly, I mean, Reed Hastings of Netflix predicts that within just a couple of years half of the television that we watch will be delivered over the Internet. That’s a big deal because it means that you can do binge watching. You can know more about your customers and you can schedule for yourself. Then one of the questions would be — and this is a big question – if I control my television set for the digital video I’m watching and be it through my cable box or some other form, I can skip ads.

What happens to advertising supported cable networks and particularly broadcast networks that are relying on advertising? That’s a huge question because the people who are watching Netflix and the kids who are watching YouTube or the people watching Amazon — they become accustomed to not having to watch ads. And, in fact, half the people who have a cable box, you know, with a DVR ability to tape shows are skipping the ads. So what happens to advertising supported television? And if advertising supported television is in trouble, who’s gonna pay four or five million dollars an episode for some quality drama like say The Good Wife on CBS? Big issues out there.

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton

Viewer Feedback Line

July 14, 2014

Although there earlier attempts to solicit direct viewer feedback and even previous phone polls like the one to determine Quola’s son’s name. It was May 1, 1995 (according to this uploaded clip) that the original viewer feedback phone line went live and was advertised on air. This viewer feedback line allowed soap fans to directly comment. Whether they were actually listened to was another matter, but for involved soap fans it at least gave an outlet for feedback and gave a sense you were helping guide the show. I doubt such a feature would be included on a DVD or a purchased download edited episode so take a look at the Viewer Feedback line on this clip. 

Although not advertised as clearly or heavily (this was at the end of most episodes for awhile) soap feedback lines are still used by soap operas to solicit feedback from the viewers.

Robansuefarm is the handle of one of Manny and Guiding Light‘s biggest fans following in her family’s footsteps of Guiding Light fandom since 1939. This blog is an effort to make it easy to find Guiding Light and especially Manny online. Check back here for her blog, find fanfic previews and fake WSPR newscasts on her YouTube, find podcasts that look back to old shows and audios of her fanfics on Blog Talk Radio, and finally follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Do Soaps Need More Sex?

July 12, 2014

Sometimes I like to share views from related areas and apply them to soaps. Tonight’s entry is one of those and it comes from an unusual source. I found this as one of Big Think’s Big Ideas. Although romance is also an important part of the formula for a successful soap opera, this rabbi argues that people in general and marriages in particular need more lust and erotic fantasies. Where better to get erotic fantasies than a soap opera? So in a way he is calling for more love in the afternoon. What do you think? Are we at the right balance of romance and lust?

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach explains the problem with marriage today. Boteach is the author of Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer.

Robansuefarm is the handle of one of Manny and Guiding Light‘s biggest fans following in her family’s footsteps of Guiding Light fandom since 1939. This blog is an effort to make it easy to find Guiding Light and especially Manny online. Check back here for her blog, find fanfic previews and fake WSPR newscasts on her YouTube, find podcasts that look back to old shows and audios of her fanfics on Blog Talk Radio, and finally follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Not Only Men

June 28, 2014

While soap operas are frequently a leading light on social issues, one area where soap operas are failing horrifically is in giving good examples of reacting to sexual violence. Often a rape (especially when committed by a woman) is ignored. The rapists are often written as romantic heroes or heroines without any repentance or work at rebuilding lives and may even end up in a romance with or married to their one time victim who isn’t bothered by their previous actions that now carry the dangerous message “they wanted it.” Victims to except in rare cases (Margo Hughes As the World Turns, Abby Bauer on Guiding Light) seem to shake it off with no ill effects. There have been some especially bad examples lately over women rapists so when this book came across my final check cart, I wanted to be sure to share it. I haven’t gotten a chance to read this book yet, but I think it has an important message.

Cook, Philip W. and Hodo, Tammy L. When Women Sexually Abuse Men: The Hidden Side of Rape, Stalking, Harassment, and Sexual Assault. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013. Print.  ISBN 978-0-313-39729-5

The publisher description:

Crimes of a sexual nature perpetrated by adult females against males constitute a serious problem in our society. A woman can rape a man, and this crime occurs far more often than most imagine. This book addresses an entire range of crimes beyond rape, however; stalking, sexual harassment, and sexual assault are all covered in detail.

When Women Sexually Abuse Men: The Hidden Side of Rape, Stalking, Harassment, and Sexual Assault illuminates the long-overlooked subject of adult female against adult male sex crimes. Combining personal accounts, information on criminal cases, relevant research on adult female against adult male sexual offenses, and statistical data from the FBI and other government sources, the authors comprehensively document how some women can be aggressive sexual predators, just like their male counterparts; highlight the changes in the criminal behavior of women; and provide fascinating stories of true crime as well as shocking revelations about human behavior.

So soap writers, it’s time to do better, besides there is more drama to be gotten from the true after affects of sexual assault than in writing it as a romance. So Stop Writing Leading Men and Women as Rapists or show the consequences for both them and their victim.

Robansuefarm is the handle of one of Manny and Guiding Light‘s biggest fans following in her family’s footsteps of Guiding Light fandom since 1939. This blog is an effort to make it easy to find Guiding Light and especially Manny online. Check back here for her blog, find fanfic previews and fake WSPR newscasts on her YouTube, find podcasts that look back to old shows and audios of her fanfics on Blog Talk Radio, and finally follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Ken Auletta: Writer Liberation and the Decline of Broadcast

June 21, 2014

I think this analysis is important for the future of soaps. I’ve pointed out before that the broadcast networks weakened their own position considerably as they move out of soap operas which fed a daily habit and created brand loyalty to all the other shows in a network in a way a sporting event or a gameshow or a talk show or a primetime show never will.  As the broadcast networks fade away will soaps take this loyalty to a new medium again, or will they change? Auletta’s new vision of the TV drama, being more like chapters in a novel is one that has been heavily explored in soap operas, especially the telanovella. Will soap operas of the future harken back to the early experiments of shows like Port Charles where they wrote themselves as novel arcs? Will that be the future of soaps?

Description from the YouTube page:

New Yorker essayists Ken Auletta describes the types of content that can and cannot survive on broadcast television.

Transcript — The networks increasingly in coming years they’re gonna be threatened by people skipping their ads and therefore reducing some of their — a good part of their revenue. And people not wanting to watch things that a network scheduler says you have to wait until 10 o’clock on Thursday night to watch this show. They’re not gonna have the patience for that anymore because they’re being taught by vehicles like platforms like Netflix not to have to wait anymore. So what can the networks do that’s original? They can do sports which is very expensive and networks can afford Reed Hastings and Netflix can’t afford that. But a broadcast network can.

So they can do sports. They can do live special events. Look at the Academy Awards, a billion people around the world watch that. That’s extraordinary and you get huge ad rates for that. They can do reality shows, you know. They can do live events. Again something that some of these newer platforms — digital platforms can’t do. And that increasingly is the view of many people of what will happen to networks. The networks will do fewer series and more live events.

The question then is who does the series? Series are pretty expensive to do. Netflix does, you know, series but only two percent of their budget are originals. So where will the money come from to do — to support the kind of expensive programming? That is a question. Now in HBO which is the most profitable of all these on-demand networks, HBO did 1.8 billion dollar’s worth of profits last year. That’s huge. A lot more than Netflix did. And unlike Netflix they own all of their own shows. You watch the Sopranos. You watch Game of Thrones. That’s owned by HBO. So forever they can repeat those shows and they receive the money because they own it.

Netflix doesn’t even own House of Cards. They rent it. So for a couple of years, several years, you’ll be able to watch House of Cards on Netflix. But then the owners of the studio that owns House of Cards could decide to sell it to someone else. And so that’s a vulnerability that a company like Netflix has and a company like HBO doesn’t have.

One of the advantages that Netflix has — they have some disadvantages and we’ve talked about them. They don’t own their own programming for instance. And to expand overseas it’s very expensive and so their profit margins are very small compared, to say, HBOs profit margins. On the other hand, a writer comes to them and they say to the writer or director, they say we’ll give you a commitment. We’ll give you a two year commitment and you won’t have to test it.

And, by the way, instead of writing a show that’s 40 or 42 minutes long which is what after you subtract the commercials for an hour drama — that’s what network drama is. Yours will be a whole hour. So dear writer, what writer wouldn’t like to write a longer series, a series where he or she doesn’t have to constantly recap and build up for the commercial break and then build down and then build up for another commercial break. But, in fact, can write as if they’re writing chapters of a book that people could read consecutively. So I can build characters, the writer says. I can actually create the complexity that you see in a novel that you often don’t see in an hour drama.

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton

Robansuefarm is the handle of one of Manny and Guiding Light‘s biggest fans following in her family’s footsteps of Guiding Light fandom since 1939. This blog is an effort to make it easy to find Guiding Light and especially Manny online. Check back here for her blog, find fanfic previews and fake WSPR newscasts on her YouTube, find podcasts that look back to old shows and audios of her fanfics on Blog Talk Radio, and finally follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

How Long Should A Soap Character Mourn?

March 1, 2014

Hear other people’s opinions here:

I think this is a great question, but I don’t think it has an exact answer like 2 months 48 hours or 56 episodes whichever comes first. Instead I think it depends on the character and situation. But there are three things I think you have to take into account.

Eternal Love – You have to believe in at least the possibility of eternal love or really why are you watching a soap if you’re not hoping that your couple will win the soap lottery and end up like Nancy and Chris Hughes or at least like David and Ellen Stewart or Tom and Margo Hughes, all on As the World Turns or Mama and Papa Bauer on the Guiding Light. Not that there is any likelihood that is going to happen. Soap writers don’t seem to know how to write that way anymore, but if you don’t honor at least the hope, the possibility, again what are we doing here?

That said I think forever is a perfectly viable answer to the question. You can have the surviving member of the couple become the town lawyer or grand dame or what have you and have them always remember their lost love. There is story to be written that way, especially with a young couple. What if on General Hospital instead of moving on with Sabrina, Patrick had to deal with suddenly be the sole parent and Emma had acted out. There’s loads of good meaty, soapy storyline there that has been mostly untouched. But again the writers don’t think that way so a second option while still mourning forever would be a lesser romance, one where the person is eternal and remembered (think Eric always making Stephanie a martini still on The Bold and the Beautiful, do you really think marriage to anyone else would stop that or that he’d give them Stephanie’s martini, at least not without a wince?). A great example of a lesser marriage is Nancy Hughes and Mac on As the World Turns. Was there ever a second’s doubt that they would rather be with their original spouses? No, but since they were dead Nancy and Mac had a good healthy, if lesser relationship anyway. I for one was sorry they never fully played out because it was Mac’s daughter that never accepted he’d moved on even this much from his first wife and they should have played her more, instead of the Hughes that all seemed fine with it right away. Another nice example was Kay and Jill with Phillip Chancellor on The Young and the Restless, while I would argue whether what either lady felt for Phillip Chancellor was true love, they did both stop and remember him each year on Memorial Day for decades. That’s the kind of thing I mean about honoring the eternal love.

Storyline Setup – The way soap scribes minds do work is more along the line of setting up triangles. Sometimes a character’s moving on is accelerated from real life to help build a triangle. Soap writers especially today (see fan wars) tend to see things in terms of triangles. If a couple is too devoted ironically that may encourage them to move on soon because an assumed death is the only way to break up a couple. Once they break up and establish a new couple, the original person can return and form a triangle or as soap writers see it storyline. With this mindset, it might be better to cut the mourning short to clear the way for the original person to return sooner.

In those cases where the the original partner is gone and they don’t chose to recast again right away, cutting short the mourning period means that remaining partner isn’t locked out of storyline for months. It will instead launch him or her onto a new story path that makes it more likely for you to see a lot more of the remaining partner, probably more than you have for awhile because new couples are always given a preferential amount of airtime.

Fan Mourning – It’s not only the characters who have to mourn. Often viewers are often devoted to a character or couple too. They come daily into your lives and while intellectually (hopefully) people know these characters aren’t real, emotionally it isn’t as clear cut. (I just cried last night rewatching Papa Bauer’s funeral.) There is a relationship, even if it is a one-sided one, with the characters and the fans themselves need a chance to process the loss and be able to bring someone new into their lives. This needs to be honored and while some people will never get over the loss, allowing some amount of time to pass before a new phase to begin shows that TPTB respect fans.

So I think all these things must be taken into account and lead you to different answers in different situations, but all three things should be considered in each case.

Robansuefarm is the handle of one of Manny and Guiding Light‘s biggest fans following in her family’s footsteps of Guiding Light fandom since 1939. This blog is an effort to make it easy to find Guiding Light and especially Manny online. Check back here for her blog, find fanfic previews and fake WSPR newscasts on her YouTube, find podcasts that look back to old shows and audios of her fanfics on Blog Talk Radio, and finally follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Are There Still Supercouples?

December 22, 2013

A recent podcast took on the topic “Are There Still Soap Supercouples?” I didn’t get a chance to talk on air, but I did give it serious thought.

First, here is a definition for Supercouple:

And a definition of Fan Wars:

Second, just so I’m plain. I don’t mean my answer to be a criticism of couples of any time period. My answer is not reflective of any difference of talent of actors or chemistry between couples of any time period. It has to do with the structure and the writing of the soaps.

I say there are Supercouples that remain are kind of like the last few remaining Mastodons at the tail end of the Ice Age. There are a few survivors, but the world has changed. It used to be the soaps used to focus story in terms of families and of individuals. With the creation of the concept of a supercouple, soap writing structure changed to accommodate them. Now that soap writing structure has changed again.

Stories have a certain structure. These structures are described as shapes. Most movies, TV shows etc. have a straight line narrative structure. When they were writing for individual characters soaps stories were written as a straight line.

A Supercouple story is different. In structure it isn’t a straight line, it’s a circle or if they are very lucky a 3-D circle or spiral. The couple starts out together is faced with an obstacle that either breaks them up or that they face together, they conquer and ultimately end up in the same place together. In the case of the spiral, they end up in the same place with an improvement so they are together and they’ve gotten approval of someone they didn’t before (Holden and Lily when he returns to the show with his memory restored), they are together and they have made a business accomplishment (Lucy and Alan-Michael take over Spaulding), they are together and they have a child and know it’s theirs (Josh and Reva once Marah’s true paternity is revealed), and finally, rarest, and the best stories they are together and there is actual character growth (Danny and Michelle when he realizes he has to send his crime family to jail to move on). But the stories always circle around to the same point. While there were triangles they were eventually resolved and 99% of the time the original supercouple remained standing.

However, as ratings continued to drop and shows began to be canceled and not replaced with other soaps, writers or the TPTB took fright and they decided the best way to get fans to keep watching and showing support was to pit fans against each other in Fan Wars. We saw the formation of permanent triangles, such as Sharon-Nick-Phyllis on The Young and the Restless, Brooke-Ridge-Taylor on The Bold and the Beautiful, and Sam-Jason-Liz on General Hospital. The structures of soap stories suddenly became a pendulum swing. Whoever was the pivot (strangely on a female driven medium the pivot is almost always a man) went back and forth perpetually between the two end points. This prevents a true supercouple from forming because the basic building block of the story is now a triangle instead of a couple. On The Bold and the Beautiful when Hope-Liam-Steffy was hobbled by Steffy leaving, they immediately had to form a new triangle with Liam-Hope-Wyatt  because they were afraid of telling either a straight line or circle story. While story structures remain this way, there isn’t a chance for a Supercouple to form because they aren’t writing Supercouples. This helps explain the lack of story for remaining couples like John and Marlena on Days of Our Lives and the strange and unprecedented out of character behavior of Nikki and Victor on The Young and the Restless as they try to force  a supercouple into a pendulum storyline.

For other people’s opinions listen to “Tune Into Tomorrow” on this special episode:

Updated September 19, 2015: I corrected 1 typo, deleted one phrase and added my signature block.

Robansuefarm is the handle of one of Manny and Guiding Light‘s biggest fans following in her family’s footsteps of Guiding Light fandom since 1939. This blog is an effort to make it easy to find Guiding Light and especially Manny online. Check back here for her blog, find fanfic previews and fake WSPR newscasts on her YouTube, find podcasts that look back to old shows and audios of her fanfics on Blog Talk Radio, and finally follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Has the meaning behind cancellation changed?

May 13, 2013

I started following VIP auctions when they sold off some of the props from As the World Turns after the cancellation. They still sometimes sell things from The Bold and the Beautiful and because of that I subscribe to their newsletter, even if I’ve never bought anything from them. I wanted to share with everyone their newsletter issue from April.

Mike Stokes, their newsletter editor, gave an editorial about the change of the meaning of cancellation. He points out the roles of having non-broadcast networks ordering full quality productions of shows, once cancelled shows can easily come back. “With Netflix, Amazon Prime, Redbox – and even Xbox – jumping into the original programming arena, the finality of the concept of cancellation has changed. While cable networks have demonstrated that original programming can be viable without a broadcast signal or subscriptions, this is becoming a watershed year for television as the Internet alters its creative and business landscapes. Not only do these venues provide an additional opportunity to keep series alive, but they can also raise the dead.” Stokes was talking about the return (7 years after its cancellation) of Arrested Development and Heroes.

Stokes doesn’t mention the even more miraculous returns of All My Children and One Life to Live. It was once a rare show that got a miraculous return either as a new series or as a movie (Star Trek, Naked Gun, etc.), but now it seems like there is hope around for everybody’s favorites. That doesn’t mean that everybody is going to get new episodes or some update about your favorites and sometimes you’re better off having your favorite show stay dead rather than let some philistine who doesn’t understand the show make new episodes, but it is hope. So while most of us can’t buy the rights or get a new production off the ground, you can help. Watch the recovered shows and contact the networks, not just the broadcast networks but those bringing them back, The Online Network, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Redbox, and Xbox, and tell them what show you want to see back (Hint: I’m telling them I want my Guiding Light.)

AMC and OLTL Set Return Dates

April 15, 2013

I’m looking forward to the return of  both All My Children (AMC) and One Life to Live (OLTL) while there are signs both ways I’m going in being positive. Mostly because I’m afraid that if they fail people won’t say this version based on mistakes failed, but that there is no market that way for soaps whether it’s true or not. I really want it to work even though these aren’t my soaps. Fingers crossed going in.

Although they haven’t been very open with the soap press, Prospect Park has done an interview with Forbes. I think it’s intended either for future investors or to reassure current ones.

Write to cast members to their name

c/o One Life To Live or c/o All My Children

P.O. Box 110237

Stamford, CT 06911

Review and preview of One Life to Live:

Review and preview of All My Children:

Susie Bedsow Horgan co-head writer of the re-booted One Life to Live has resigned.

Find Meet the Cast for free on iTunes:

Even the goats are screaming everyone is so happy OLTL is coming back.

Odds and Ends 24

March 3, 2013

While looking for Guiding Light information, I sometimes find things that I think are of interest relating to other soaps. This collection of Odds and Ends related to various soaps that someone may want to know some time. Look for another odds and ends post soon.

Daytime Emmy Pre-Nominations Released.

Update on All My Children and One Life to Live with Prospect Park in the Feb. 4, 2013 issue of Soap Opera Digest. Read this interview about it by Cady McClain.

All My Children reboot cast line released.

The 40th anniversary of The Young and the Restless hits during the month of March, but rather a one day celebration, they intend to have special celebrating events all during the month.

David Selby of Dark Shadows and Falcon Crest fame also has repeatedly played Abraham Lincoln in different projects. He was recently interviewed about it for a Dark Shadows website.

In the question and answers section of the Feb. 4, 2013 issue of Soap Opera Digest reports that Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie on Days of Our Lives and Joanne on The Young and Restless) appeared in two different episodes of My Three Sons as different characters. She was Suzanne Boyer in a 1965 episode and Judith Leslie in a 1967 episode.

General Hospital has another book jump from the screen onto the press this time it’s “Molly and Connie’s” book, Love in Maine. I must say from the first leak that it reads like something a 16-year-old might write (apologies to S.E. Hinton who did an amazingly better job when she was 16). You can pre-order now.

This article/slideshow gives the Once Upon a Time family tree.

There was a recent question on Twitter about the music Nikki Newman played on the piano. @RCCates tweeted “Nikki’s most recent performance was a Brahms Composition. Op. 39, Waltz No. 15 in A flat major. Beautiful!”

Shelmar Moore (Malcolm Winters on The Young and the Restless) presents his respects to The Young and the Restless.

The Caleb Morley Port Charles – General Hospital background.

The two Did You Knows in the March 11, 2013 issue of CBS Soaps in Depth were that Winsor Harmon (Thorne Forrester) has a bracelet bearing the word Torn because that’s how Italian The Bold and the Beautiful fans pronounce his character’s name and that Michael Damian (Danny Romalotti) was hired for The Young and the Restless after William J. Bell saw him on American Bandstand.

%d bloggers like this: