September 2013 marked two years since ABC cancelled the much beloved “All My Children” and took soap icon Susan Lucci and her alter ego Erica Kane away from the daily lives of soap fans. When ABC made this move they cited declining ratings and expensive production costs and they scheduled talk shows to replace these iconic soaps arguing that the cost to produce such shows would be far less than the cost to produce the soaps. What ABC didn’t count on was the fans of “All My Children” and sister show “One Life to Live” rising up to say enough and turning their considerable ire towards ABC and its parent company Disney. Fans even threatened to turn on another beloved daytime icon, Oprah Winfrey, when she announced that she would not carry the two cancelled soaps on her OWN network.
For soap fans, the cancellation of “All My Children” and “One Life To Live” was the last straw. After watching CBS and Procter & Gamble destroy historic soaps like “Guiding Light” and “As The World Turns” fans drew a line in the sand with the ABC soaps. Immediately, fans mobilized to boycott ABC in many ways. First, was the targeting of the shows that were slated to take the place of the two soaps. Daytime viewers refused to watch the replacement shows and over the past two years, these shows have failed to gain a following. For example “The Chew,” ABC’s attempt to make cooking an exciting daytime activity, currently has a 1.6 rating compared to the 2.4 – 2.7 rating that “One Life To Live” enjoyed right up to the point of cancellation. What must be most galling for ABC is that both shows cost roughly the same $750,000 per episode. Worst of all for ABC, they recently spent tens of millions of dollars creating and promoting the Katie Couric talk show, hoping that the once popular morning host would gain a large following. So far, Katie is attracting ratings that are in the range that would mean cancellation for most shows. Rumors abound that ABC is desperately searching for a replacement for Katie, and “The Chew” is the lowest rated show on daytime TV.
Nothing is more representative of what soap fans can do than the reaction to and continued pressure on Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey spent years telling her talk show audience that she grew up on soaps and that the ABC soaps, especially “All My Children” were her favorites. She even made a cameo appearance on the show opposite Susan Lucci in the 1980s when Winfrey was a local talk show host. Just before cancellation. ABC soap fans begged Winfrey in writing and via personal video appeals to rescue both shows and air them on her new Own network. The pressure was so great that Winfrey was compelled to make a special video explaining to fans why she could not save the shows and apologizing for not doing so. Longtime Oprah fans were disappointed, outraged and some were spurred to threaten a boycott of OWN and anything Oprah. That’s how much these shows and the actors mean to many soap fans. Winfrey, facing a struggling network, with little original programming, and very low ratings, eventually reversed herself and began airing the new original episodes of “All My Children” and “One Life To Live” that are being produced by Prospect Park.
Fans were quick to take credit for the resurrection for the two soaps and industry insiders agreed that the soap fans played a huge role in not only convincing Prospect Park to bring the soaps back, but in getting Oprah to pick them up for her network. With over 500 channels to choose from and shows that cater to ever smaller niches, executives listen when large numbers of fans are passionate about a particular genre. One soap fan said, “I have not watched any channel or show owned by a Disney network and I have not seen any Disney movie since we lost our soap, and I will continue to boycott anything attached to Disney until we got AMC and OLTL back where they belong, on network television in the afternoon. Erica Kane never settled and neither will her fans!”
Its statements like these that strike fear into TV executives and advertisers, and often they listen to these passionate fans. They pay even more attention to ratings and when “All My Children” began airing online, ratings were impressive for that medium. The show was also the the most downloaded season on iTunes for a day and the most watched show on Hulu for a day.
Fans hope these numbers and the intensity with which the fans rallied to get their shows back will convince ABC/Disney executives to bring both shows back to their daytime lineup as they were. Most fans will not even think of supporting Disney and ABC until that happens. Like Erica Kane, these fans intend to get their way, by any means necessary!
Please leave your comments!
Soap fans will you still boycotting ABC/Disney until Erica Kane and Vickie Buchanan are back to they’re time slot as they were and Disney restore Soap Net? Or will just forgive and forget your soaps?