If there is one thing American soap opera fans know, it’s that Americans love their soaps. Every day, millions of people across the country sit happily glued to their televisions watching the latest developments in the ongoing stories of their favorite characters. They gather online to express their incredulity, their sadness, and their joy over the goings-on in the most recent episodes. Soap operas are an institution in the United States, an important part of American culture for a lot of people who follow them closely.
What many Americans may not realize, however, is just how popular these shows are overseas. Wildly beloved shows like The Young and The Restless and One Life to Live, and even lesser known productions like Falcon Crest, have found adoring fans all over the world who are every bit as devoted as those living stateside. Yet the networks, those monolithic entities who seem to think they know best despite what pesky facts might say, routinely all but ignore this enormous foreign market and the profits that could be made there. This becomes extremely frustrating when we consider that all too common gripe from the networks: That they aren’t making enough money, and so the soaps must suffer.
Think about it. How many times have the networks threatened to or actually made the decision to fire beloved actors from soap operas, managing with the single stroke of a pen to disrespect and insult not only the people who make their shows possible (the actors they are firing), but the fans who love and support those actors on and off screen? How many discussions have there been about canceling entire soap operas, including the actual cancellation of All My Children? All of these actions are taken under the same rationalization; namely, there just isn’t enough money.
So, here’s a tip for the networks. Instead of making your fans and the people who make your shows suffer, how about paying some attention to the lucrative foreign market? Expand distribution of the programs in other countries, where people have already demonstrated that they enjoy and would watch them. Make attendant deals around this distribution, including the product placement agreements that are so profitable in soap operas. Put a little thought into it, stop making excuses for why you don’t have money, and start working for it. Believe it or not, some of us have to do that every day.
We at LTAS have tried to show that with the foreign market, the return of soaps’ is simply a matter of time. And thank you, Eternalendrea, for writing another example of this! Readers, please discuss, comment, share! And as always, Stay Soapy!
–Your Editor-in-Chief, Akbi Khan