Dear Readers: Hello, from your Editor-in-Chief here at LTAS, Akbi Khan. What follows below is the first installment in our multi-question debate between a high-level Hollywood television network executive and three major SOS leaders. Each question in the debate will appear in separate posts.
I was recently granted the honor of interviewing Head of Daytime at the OMG network, Ms. Guided Clulessington (her name has been changed to protect her privacy). We asked her what she would want to ask Save Our Soaps (SOS) community leaders and members, like us here at LTAS, you readers, and others out there. We wanted the questions to both offer some sort of explanation of the networks’ delaying bringing back our soaps and then queries, the response to which would give them an idea about why they should bring the soaps back. We asked three prominent SOS community members: Dr. Donald G. Boudreau, Joann Hernandez Skutches, Toure T. Cannon: to respond to Ms. Cluelessington’s questions. For some more detailed background please read this brief but informative article from TV Guide that much of this part of our interview is based on: tv guide.jpg. Read Ms. Cluelessington’s first question and each response below! As always, please comment, discuss, share! Remember, closed mouths don’t get fed! Remember to stay tuned for more debate on following Mondays. And, as always, remember to Stay Soapy!
Ms. Cluelessington: The TV marketplace is more crowded than ever, so risky investments in brand new shows are not appealing to us. Our safest bets, as mentioned in a recent article from TV Guide, we have found through polling, based on viewer awareness of shows and their intent to watch shows, are franchises that viewers already have solid familiarity with. Hence the return of, “The Muppets,” or the show “Heroes Reborn,” or the still possible reboot of the 1990s sitcom, “Coach.” What do soap fans and the SOS community have to say about this?
Response from Joann Hernandez Skutches, a soap journalist, active SOS community leader, and longtime soap fan:
Joann Hernandez Skutches: As a TV viewer, I will choose a franchise familiar to me like NBC’s Heroes Reborn. Having followed NBC’s Heroes by means of its Facebook Page. I was aware of Heroes Reborn, and I think others have been too. I found out about the re-launch of NBC’s “Heroes Reborn” on my Facebook timeline. I think social media is a big reason people get into shows these days. Soaps are familiar to millions of viewers through name recognition and our passion for our soaps. And because of their presence and the presence of fan pages on social media. Even with Heroes, I realized that their time slot conflicted with another show I was interested in, but it was one of my favorite shows, so I chose to watch it and will then also be watching its reboot, Heroes Reborn. When the soaps come back, I will be watching, of course, and I think millions of other viewers will too.
Response from Dr. Donald G. Boudreau. Dr. Boudreau is the author of the ebook, American Business and Daytime Dramas (2012; available at Smashwords.com and Amazon.com) regarding the April 14, 2011, announcement by ABC/Disney Television (and its aftermath) cancelling two of Daytime television’s prized soap operas created by the legendary writer, Agnes Nixon, “One Life to Live” and “All My Children.”
Dr. Boudreau: The strong franchises represented by America’s many soap operas and their respective rabidly loyal fan bases represent valuable new business opportunities for steady profitable investments that, while not verifiable cash cows per se, can nonetheless represent continued profit centers, generating tens upon tens of millions of dollars in profits annually for ABC, CBS, and NBC, benefiting their respective shareholders with long and steady growth.
ABC would be wise to begin this process by forthwith resurrecting “One Life to Live” (preferably Cartini-style) and “All My Children,” also preferably in New York City. CBS and NBC need to follow suit regarding their own lucrative soap opera properties currently laying dormant on their shelves. The irony is, these two shows evidenced longterm profitability on this scale at the time of their respective cancellations by the network. Why, one rightly asks? How could this be so? It does not even make good business sense.
The definition of insanity is the most overused cliche of all time, but it applies here. The old saw, most commonly attributed to Albert Einstein, observes that insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. One could forgive American television audiences for thinking that perhaps, the programming executives at ABC, CBS, and NBC, had lost their collective corporate minds.
For why else would these major television broadcasting networks seemingly go about cancelling longstanding profitable daytime soap opera television shows, replacing them with generally speaking, largely unsuccessful (and heavily boycotted by many soap opera fans) low-rated food, talk, and lifestyle shows programming? Why would the networks do such, given that many of these soap operas constitute strong, profitable and valuable franchises containing some of the most noted loyal viewing audiences imaginable within the entire entertainment industry? Why didn’t these networks and their line management and support staffs, for benefit of their respective shareholders, genuinely taken maximum advantage in marketing these soap operas domestically, exploiting the vast international market for the same, and with regard to their many corporate sponsors, taken full advantage of the profitable product integration opportunities that such franchises represent?
Or, is it possible that the networks were duped by their very own? Had the Anne Sweeneys and Brian Fronses of the world sold a fictitious or highly short term, simplistic, not well-thought-out bill of goods to the Bob Igers of the world, tragically resulting in soap opera after soap opera being cancelled? How could the network’s focus groups had gotten things so wrong? Was this “new entertainment” not what the public actually wanted to watch? But wait. Wasn’t it deemed desirable by some simply on the basis that it was reportedly cheaper in some cases, a hefty 40% cheaper, to produce talk shows rather than American soap opera, and so there, that was that? Frons had reportedly told La Lucci as much face-to-face in a meeting when she was formally advised by him of All My Children’s being cancelled. Was that really the end of the business case analysis? Was that, should that, have really been the end of the story. Not so fast…
I liken the three major television networks overall behavior pattern largely to that of a syndrome, exhibiting a set of symptoms as described, that I discuss in my book American Business and Daytime Dramas, as the Oprah Show Syndrome. The Oprah Winfrey show represented a tremendous commercial success as a daytime television show, that relative to investment costs, resulted in generating hundreds of millions of dollars in profits for the network. To a large extent, it continues to represent the Holy Grail of daytime talk shows that the major television networks, against the vast odds, continue seeking as they churn out many relatively low production cost, so-called reality shows, food, talk, and lifestyle shows. Many of these new television shows have already been cancelled as a result of low ratings, or are otherwise being boycotted by the Nation’s soap opera fans from those multiple strong soap franchises fan bases, and some of these shows are barely hanging on as they are scandal-ridden and nearing imminent cancellation. What to do, the struggling networks executives continue asking among themselves, at their various day-to-day programming-related meetings?
The View, for example, now finds itself embroiled in a controversy that infuriated the Nation’s entire nursing profession, as accordingly some major corporate sponsors have fled the show, and many health providers throughout the country as a result, will never again watch the show, a public apology from the network and a show host notwithstanding. Even The Muppets are not safe from controversy as certain of the show’s advertisements (and show content) have brought protests from certain family values groups, as being found objectionable by its injecting adult sexual themes into otherwise children focused entertainment. The Chew and its celebrity chef, premier host Mario Batali became tainted as an ABC property in the public eye, from the very outset, as a result of an substantial and widely documented in the national media, notorious multi-million dollar tip-skimming scandal involving various restaurants he and others own or owned. How many of these episodes could have been avoided by upfront due diligence and astute corporate executive leadership? None of the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, or others) are immune here from such behaviors that can end up seriously, adversely affecting their bottom lines.
Television networks need to shake themselves awake, free themselves from the self-delusional trance, the spell, and cease and desist the Oprah Show Syndrome in its tracks. They need to stop throwing piles of spaghetti against the walls of their studios praying in the process that single strands here and there will stick, that a new golden cash cow, a la the Oprah Show, will miraculously, if randomly, strike a profitable note with the American daytime television audience, reaping the network outrageous windfall profit levels. Surely, their, ABC’s sweetheart contract bet on “Katie,” being such, never materialized. In that case another bet and an expensive bet at that was wagered on a media ABC darling personality, Katie Couric, that, frankly, people obviously did not want to watch. The doomed show’s ratings (it also having been heavily boycotted by the strong soap opera franchise fan bases of “One Life to Live” and “All My Children” nationwide) soon, powerfully, evidenced that fact when it was canceled.
In my book, American Business and Daytime Dramas, the case is made for various sensible recommendations existing for the major television networks making soap operas production more cost effective in the New York City metropolitan area. The three major television networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC (with their breathtaking, combined resources bases) need to begin seriously exploring the possibilities for collocated, shared-cost, partnering arrangements, product integration and product placement opportunities with their many corporate sponsors, for producing profitable American soap operas, not just for American viewing audiences but moreover, for many of the nearly 200 countries that exist in the world today. And finally, there is no better time for them to start doing so, than now, producing a great American export for the world market, American soap operas.
Response from Toure T. Cannon, outspoken and tireless SOS community leader:
Toure T. Cannon: Greetings once again my fellow soap fans, its me, Toure Cannon giving you another telling-it-like-it-is LTAS Blog! This one is a little different. Editor-in-Chief, Akbi Khan, sent me a TV Guide article based on the re-launching old ABC shows. She asked me a question on behalf of Ms. Cluelessington based upon what us viewers want to and do not to watch vs. what the television networks THINK THEY WE WANT TO WATCH, or should I say FORCE US AND MANIPULATE US INTO WATCHING! Coach was possibly being rebooted, but now that may not happen. There is talk that The X-Files and Xena, Warrior Princess, and Twin Peaks are returning in 2016.
Now here’s a question: what would you rather watch in the daytime? Me? That’s simple: The Love In The Afternoon line up. AMC, OLTL. AND GH! But the stupid, ratchet, raggedy, imbecilic, dirty, scraggly stink-funk smelling Ratmouse Disney ABC TV axed them and said we viewers don’t want drama in the afternoon anymore! What the heck? YEAH RIGHT, YOU LIARS! How do you know what we want to watch, without asking us, you doofuses? Please, answer–DON’T ANSWER—SCRATCH THAT!
These television networks don’t have any business forcing us to watch crappity crap TV shows that we don’t give a goose’s behind about! We decide what to watch and what we want canceled, STUPID GOONHEADED IDIOTS!!! I’m still boycotting ABC TV 23/7, except for General Hospital, UNTIL OUR CANCELLED ABC SOAPS RETURN! NBC AND CBS NEED TO DO THE SAME, AND NOT BECOME ANOTHER CHANNEL LIKE DISNEY ABC TV, BY MAKING THE SAME FUNKED UP MISTAKE OR YOU’LL BE BOYCOTTED AS WELL!
BUT KPIX CBS 5, is doing way better than ABC, a network always broadcasting crap, because it has two soaps, The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young And The Restless, while NBC TOO ONLY HAS ONE, Days Of Our Lives.
Listen to your fans, Ms. Cluelessington, it’s part of your job, AND FOR ONCE…STOP LISTENING TO YOUR GREED BEFORE YOU WIND UP BROKE OR WORSE. AND STOP ACTING LIKE A BUNCH OF ILLITERATE, UNEDUCATED DUMMIES, WHEN WE BOTH KNOW YOU’RE NOT! NOT ALL MONEY IS GOOD MONEY.
So, readers, you can answer that question above or just leave your comments below, and continue to fight for our ABC, CBS, and NBC soaps. Thank You!
Toure Cannon, Soap Warrior for AMC AND OLTL!
Fire away, readers and soap fans!