Hey, Soap/LTAS Fans! Hope you’re all doing well and NEVER giving up on all soaps, near and far! As promised, here is the second part of our interview with business, advertising, author, and soap expert, Dr. Donald Boudreau. Have you ever wondered how much money the networks make or could make from the international soap opera market. Wonder no more..read on.
Dr. Donald G. Boudreau is an internationally recognized expert in the field of economic statecraft and is the author of several books, including American Business and Daytime Dramas (Smashwords, 2012). He and his wife, Zoraida de (together with their two dogs and two parakeets) are happily building their new home in a small coastal fishing town that serves as a gateway to North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
- The American soap operas have had big international audiences, the networks have/had big money to make there. If you were a network’s head of daytime programming, how would you handle the international audience?
- Fans are working busily every day to get “Dallas” back on TV,“Dynasty” is said to be making a 2015 comeback. How do you explain the fact that these nighttime soaps haven’t lost their audiences in 20 years?
- Would that be a good move, business-wise, for DirecTV to create a soap channel? Why or why not?
- Do you think networks can simply air reality-based programing in time slots once occupied by daytime serials and hope for the profits and fan loyalty that latter once brought them?
- Do you believe, as we at LTAS do, that soaps, like Phoenix, will rise from the ashes triumphant?
LTAS: So far we’ve talked about soaps in the context of their domestic audience only? We know that American soap operas have had big international audiences for a long time, and thus the networks have/had big money to make there. If you were a network’s head of daytime programming, how would you handle the international audience?
DB: In my book American Business and Daytime Dramas, an entire essay is devoted to the international appeal of soap opera. In this regard, it is noteworthy that a show such as “The Bold and The Beautiful” in recent years has been deemed the most popular soap opera currently for its success domestically and internationally. This is a show that can be seen in more than 110 countries and garnered more than 24.5 million viewers worldwide in 2008, making it more watched than any telenovela or soap opera on television, according to the Guinness. It is also noteworthy that in France, “One Life to Live” did in fact have a brief stint during 1987‐1988,airingunder the name” On ne vit qu’une fois” which means “You Only Live Once.” Reportedly as well, “Loving” was big in Italy along with “Guiding Light,””Days of our Lives” in Australia, “Santa Barbara” in Armenia. “As the World Turns” is very popular in The Netherlands. And no wonder it is much to its credit, Proctor & Gamble is working hard in creating new soaps for Turkey and other Arab nations that are sweeping the Middle East with a view to marketing their suite of products throughout such, thanks to its worthwhile product placement and product integration techniques, if only major television networks take to wisely emulating the same. All of which raises the questions of what international syndication, international product placement, and international product integration opportunities the major United States television networks have heretofore to the present day yet failed to exploit through its valuable soap opera franchises? Why not be using platforms such as popular American soap operas like” One Life to Live” and “All My Children” in a similar manner per the aforementioned proven successful business model for “The Bold and the Beautiful.”? For the many ABC Disney shareholders’ interests, one wonders just how much in profits has been sacrificed, and over how many years, by senior ABC Disney executives not taking full international business advantage wisely of these valuable soap opera franchises thanks to abysmal management decisions taken including among others, cancelling them (One Life and All My Children)domestically, failing to exploit them successfully internationally, “replacing them” for a litany of in some cases, pricey, soon failed talk shows a la Katie, all failing to recapture the significant loyal market share soap opera audience followings lost, via the rank ill-conceived cancellations? Powerfully witness, too, that CBS has long taken advantage of airing soaps in French in Canada ala Days, unlike the ABC soaps. And, there you have it. There is so much work to be done now by ABC and the other networks, and lucrative new growth markets to be had for the taking.
LTAS: As of this writing, fans are working busily every day to get “Dallas” back on TV after it was resurrected and then cancelled again (on TNT). “Dynasty” is said to be making a 2015 comeback. How do you explain the fact that these nighttime soaps haven’t lost their audiences in 20 years?
DB: The cancelling of Dallas by TNT has unleashed an international uproar by fans on Twitter and other social media that is nothing short of impressive. Just earlier in November 2014, there was a Super Tweetathon that began in New Zealand and was held for 6 hours worldwide. Much has been written regarding Warner Brothers Pictures efforts being made with a view to Saving Dallas and The Globe Magazine has stepped up also with its campaign supporting fans efforts in this regard. Moreover, there was the Save Dallas European Tweetathon with its separate respective starting times for the European Union, United Kingdom, and United States that drew much attention and support to the cause. Andyes, Dynasty is reportedly being slated for a possible comeback. To what are we to attribute this phenomenon of strong staying power of fans supporting so‐called nighttime, primetime soap operas? Storytelling is a primordial basic human needs engrained in our very core of existence. it is what distinguishes us as people, we have stories to tell. All of these fans are sending messages to the networks and to all of the corporate advertisers who are listening. Deliver to the fans the entertainment what they are clamoring for, and their buying patronage and loyalty will reciprocally flow riches into the hands of your companies shareholders and corporate advertisers. That is the very proposition now set forth that waits for appropriate action to be taken by the networks and production companies forthwith. Networks and production companies need to pay heed in addressing these powerful consumer demands being made by vocal viewing audiences for good scripted, storytelling, classical American soap operas. These are the many millions of viewers who have been overly saturated with the lowest common denominator reality food and weight reduction show offerings entertainment. Quality storytelling is timeless, and will always win out in the end, as people continue demanding their stories presence in their living rooms. The pendulum is now swinging back into that rightful direction bring with it new business opportunities for growth aplenty, both domestically and in international markets.
LTAS: From an economic point-of-view, what would it mean for New York City to have AMC and OLTL return to production there?
DB: Regarding New York City, it is noteworthy that during the course of a livingthedream.mom.com podcast on Tuesday, May26, 2011. the widely respected actor Jerry ver Dorn, in recent years known for his work in playing the role of Clint Buchanan in “One Life to Live” observed that in 1978 when he first arrived on the scene in Manhattan, there were 3 networks producing 15 soap operas! Today, there are none, thank you ABC/Disney et al. Having One Life to Live and All My Children return to production in New York City would bring many jobs and economic benefits to ABC Disney shareholders, to New York City and New York state, and to the many ancillary businesses operating in the New York metropolitan region that would be positively affected by their presence. In my book American Business and Daytime Dramas, an entire essay is devoted to the manner in which the presence of soap opera in New York City long historically and successfully served as a training ground, a feeder system if you will, for the many talented actors and actresses who have go onto become blockbuster talents in today’s Hollywood movies and on the Broadway stage. This was no accident, and it was no small treasure, and yes it can be replicated no win force, and by orders of magnitude with new investment bringing good steady returns for the ABC Disney Company and its shareholders. There are many avenues open for more efficiently, economically producing these soap operas than heretofore had existed in past years, and ABC Disney is well positioned to take advantage of such opportunities given its rather impressive preexisting resource and infrastructure and skills bases, its significant footprint in New York City and let us not forget its production facilities in the surrounding boroughs as well.
LTAS: LTAS and the Save Our Soaps (SOS) movement as a whole are in the process of re-directing a coupon campaign to persuade the already-receptive DirecTV to create an exclusively soap opera-based channel. What that be a good move, business-wise, for DirecTV? Why or why not?
DB: Actually, I think it would be a good business move for DirecTV or for other takers with the necessary resources. In recent years, we have seen a proliferation of networks specializing their offerings based on viewing audience preferences. Here in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, for example, Me TV offers a wide range of nostalgic television show offerings that have a large and significant following. There are all types of network and cable shows today catering to more specialized viewing audiences than at any time in the past based on consumer preferences (e.g., crime related and law enforcement, foods, hobbies, sports, dress and fashion, homes and real estate, travel and leisure activities, etc.) and there is no end in sight it seems to me. The network or networks that are successfully able to create a forum whereby legions of fans of these many soap shows can take advantage of viewing these substantial catalogs, on a day‐to‐day basis, stand to realize significant revenues by monetizing these longstanding consumer loyalties to these shows. Millions upon millions of soap opera fans will buy the product lines advertising on, and thus underwriting, these shows continuing successes as such. Too many of these shows catalogs are now tragically lying dormant, gathering dust on company shelves, and this situation needs to be reversed, and sooner rather than later one hopes to be the case.
LTAS From a business point of view, do you think networks can simply air reality-based programing in time slots once occupied by daytime serials and hope for the profits and fan loyalty that latter once brought them?
DB: I am not here to demonize reality television as I have and do, on occasion, like many people enjoyed watching as how such as for example, Next Great Baker or another food, restaurant‐themed like show. But I believe that that pendulum has swung to an extreme level due to network group think. As some observers have noted, much of so called reality programming is, in fact, very much scripted and rehearsed programming, too. But the human condition cries out with certain basic, primordial needs which it craves and storytelling is one such critical need that soap opera programming, not just here in the United States but internationally, is the most dominant form of such that we find in the world today. Millions of American fans of American soap opera gravely miss All My Children and One Life to Live and they and their families and friends continue boycotting ABC and Disney, until such time that those shows are returned to the airwaves. One need look no further than social media protests that remain powerful forces in advertising their support for these shows clamoring for ABC Disney to take the necessary corrective actions with a view toward settling the protracted litigation with Prospect Park, and bringing these shows back to the their respective fan bases forthwith, and uniting those fan bases back to supporting ABC/Disney’s network and its ancillary businesses and its many corporate sponsors tied to supporting such shows programming. I find myself in near constant awe and feeling tremendous respect toward the All My Children and One Life to Live Save Our Soaps movement, its many leaders and its millions of supporting fans, nationwide. How can one not have been moved by the haunting image of one soaps activist Nathan Brookshire, standing on the side walk of a road in a town in America with traffic passing by, holding up a placard sign supporting these shows? How can one not be moved by the longstanding dedication and hard work evidenced by the team of unbeatable great ladies all, tied to producing Let’s Talk About Soaps (“LTAS”) out of Brooklyn, New York including among others, the show’s co‐hosts Cheneise Carey‐Beebe, Stella Winston, the noted songstress Alura Johnson, behind‐the‐scenes and always hard at work executive producer Tessa K. McKenzie, director Bernice Brook, and you, yours truly their phenom blogger, scribe Akbi Khan? How can one not be moved by the hours of heartfelt YouTube videos produced by LTAS’ Cheneise as she rightly and relentlessly hammers ABC Disney and its senior executives calling them out by name and deed, for their rank misguided, disastrous corporate decisions made by cancelling these two iconic American soap operas; shows, that had long been profitable ventures for the network for many decades, thus having provided the financing for so many of its historical prime time television successes? How can one not be moved by the heart wrenching YouTube videos produced by Tina Byrd Payne powerfully demonstrating how significant these shows are; the useful ongoing role that they play in fans and their families lives year‐after‐year? And too, do not forget her admirably selfless generosity in organizing the producing of actor Michael Easton calendars, again and again, selflessly supporting with so many other soap fans the good work of the American Cancer Society. Who has produced more astute, brilliant legal commentary regarding the ongoing, seemingly never ending ABC‐Prospect Park litigation than the wonderful Spin’s Vixenella, thanks to her talented presence on Twitter, in particular? Look at the leadership role in the soaps movement played by someone such as Shawn Brady of Soap Fans United, including among many others, how could one not be moved? Powerfully witness the work of so many of the soap journalists such as, among so many others, Nanci Hughes, of the New York Soap Opera Examiner, as a wonderful fan of these shows and a great supporter in the forefront of the Save Our Soaps (“SOS”) movement. Look at Canadian soap journalist, Nelson Branco, and his daring bravery and journalistic integrity in publicly and selflessly defending these shows in the face of their nasty cancellations. How can one not be moved? How cannot be moved by the acutely perceptive business observations, brought to bear by one John Larsen of New York City, he being no stranger to New York daytime television production, also known as Midnighter on Facebook and Twitter, as he powerfully lectures ABC Disney, in precise, hefty dollar figures, on its rank failed business economics case in cancelling these two shows and foolishly supporting talk shows (some pricey) that have in short order tanked in the ratings and been forced from the airways by relentless, boycotting soap fans nationwide refusing to watch them? How can one not come away impressed with the substantial body of work analytically crafted by the talented Michael Fairman of Michael Fairman Soaps in addressing the many thorny issues, tied to these two shows and their respective casts, since their infamous cancellations by ABC/Disney? How can one not be moved by the likes of Travis Stair creatively supporting, through his many Facebook postings, his unwavering conviction of One Life To Live as the greatest television show, ever? The problem with singling people out, with the naming of names of leaders and noted fans is, of course, that one will always fail to recognize many deserving contributors to the Save Our Soaps movement and its day‐to‐day work who too, are equally worthy of being duly recognized. To name but a few more, Marc Anthony Ouckama, Andrea Kollo, Denise Quinones, Heather Chajko, Mike Wahl, Tony R. Curtis, Mary Amos, Trevor Mcbain, Edna Jackson Barefoot, Toure T. Cannon, and Karim El Masri. How can one not be moved by the useful contributions made to these shows and this genre by the well respected Carolyn Hinsey of Soap Opera Digest fame and Mr. Dan J. Krol of Soaps Central Live? And, do not forget the indefatigable work of Richard M. Simms, the executive editor of Soaps In Depth magazine. They are, individually and collectively, a powerful, formidable force to be reckoned with along with the countless other Facebook pages, leaders and supporting fans there and on Twitter and related soap blogs and magazines and radio shows, too. Each and every one, mentioned here and not due to space and time limitations, have been core, critical to the success that is the contemporary soaps movement, aimed at rectifying this rank injustice and bringing the respect and honor due this genre by the entertainment industry writ large.
LTAS: It’s been a tough few years for soap fans. Do you believe, as we at LTAS do, that soaps, like Phoenix, will rise from the ashes triumphant? Could there be a second Dr. Donald Boudreau book about 2015 as the year American business AND daytime drama won?
DB: The legendary American baseball outfielder and pitcher, Babe Ruth, once observed that “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” And, somehow and someway ABC Disney and its daytime programming decision makers it seems to me must come to grips with this inexorable reality and get on with the business of countermanding and reversing these misguided program cancellations. The many millions of dedicated American soap opera fans of All My Children and One Life To Live are the very people that Babe Ruth was referring to as they do not give up. It needs to be understood by myopic television network programming decision makers, special note of each and every television network that soap opera and its audiences are anything but myopic or stove piped in their decision making and loyalties. These are the same and one consumers who will loyally buy the sponsors products when they visit their supermarkets and stores nationwide. These are the same and one customers who will plan their weddings and family celebrations and vacations on Disney cruises and at Disney’s entertainment venues. These are the same and one fans who will be coming to the soap fan weekends, patronizing all of the related businesses while there. It is they who will be bringing their children and their grandchildren to the company’s latest movie releases. The soap opera fans customer loyalty is not to be taken for granted, and accordingly, such will be richly reciprocated in turn. They are consumers, customers, and fans, all of these things and you marginalize ‐ or ignore them ‐‐or, but pay them lip service, at your career and the company’s peril. And yes, finally, if ABC Disney one day soon has a corporate epiphany, coming full circle, and doing the right thing for its loyal national television viewing audience, resurrecting these vintage shows to their rightful throne son Manhattan Island (and please, Luna Moody’s Soaps Goddess, may it be with none other than Cartini at the helm!), then yes, I can certainly envision writing another tome commending them for such, at long last. That actually would be my personal pleasure and a sequel worth penning. “Thank you” great ladies of Let’s Talk About Soaps for having me here with you once again, take care and be well and finally, keep on keeping on, in keeping the SOS faith alive. See you next time and happy holidays to all. Best wishes as ever, D)
Stay tuned, soap/LTAS fans! Now you’ve heard from Dr. Boudreau on the foreign soap market. Next week we will have a Spanish soap fan who will tell us all about American soap operas and their popularity in Spain! And as ALWAYS, Stay Soapy! Subscribe (upper right corner) and comment away!