Disney-ABC Owns the Day
Soap ownership is key to success in down market
By Anne Becker -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/30/2008 8:00:00 PM
In this story:
MOVIES IN THE MIX
At a time when shaky ratings have led some to question the soap genre, Disney-ABC's daytime division is quietly pitching advertisers this upfront season that soaps are here to stay.
Daytime ratings were down about 10% last year—not good news for the $1.2 billion business. And ABC's soaps have faced ratings drops like the others. But the network differs from its competitors in its ability to weather ratings woes, making them less of a drain on the bottom line.
The difference is, since Disney-ABC owns its three soaps, it can quickly and creatively integrate advertisers' products into shows. Plus, the company monetizes daytime content by putting it onto sister cable network Soapnet—currently undergoing a makeover of its own to encompass all soapy fare and not just traditional dramas—and selling it abroad through sister studio Buena Vista Productions.
“I want to look at our business as a studio business,” says Disney-ABC Daytime President Brian Frons, who oversees the daytime shows, Soapnet and the Buena Vista studio. The division produces some 1,000 hours of original programming per year, including Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Ebert & Roeper.
“Our job is to get as many people watching us as possible—daytime, Soapnet, international. It's a more holistic revenue-driven model and gives people the confidence to know we're sticking around. Advertisers do like having this platform to reach women on an efficient basis, so they need to know that.”
Efficient is right. In meetings with advertisers currently going on, the division is pointing out to clients that while soaps' overall ratings may be down, their viewer base is highly devoted and, according to research, more likely to remain watching through the commercials. On average, among women 18-49, daytime has a higher C3 percent retention than prime—103% to 98%, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Because ABC owns its shows, it can more easily and quickly facilitate product integration deals. Last year, Campbell's worked its “Go Red” campaign to promote heart health into all three ABC soaps as well as The View, and the network is pitching similar synergies this year.
MOVIES IN THE MIX
In addition to bolstering daytime with such ad deals, the company is broadening its plan for Soapnet, moving it from being a home for soap opera reruns to one for original content, as well as more acquired primetime soaps and movie dramas. The network has bought a packet of small to midsize movies to add to its Sunday night movie franchise: Romy and Michelle: In the Beginning; I Do, They Don't; Face on the Milk Carton; Relative Chaos; and I Want to Marry Ryan Banks.
Soapnet is also moving forward with Relative Madness, six hour-long specials this summer on the most over-the-top TV and celebrity families, with commentary from talent including comedian Joy Behar, dancer Chris Judd, and mother/daughter socialites Lisa and Britney Gastineau.
“We wanted to recognize the fact that we live in a soap nation—primetime soaps, daytime soaps, Britney Spears soaps,” says Frons. Soapnet currently programs 40 hours of original programming a week, and Frons says he would like to double that number over the next two years.
“America has been getting their soap fix in a lot of different ways other than or in addition to the daily soaps, and so we're reflecting that on the channel, all with a soapy filter—otherwise it's just another women's network.”
This is stupid. Why doesn''t Brian Frons and the rest of the people in charge of the ABC Daytime soaps and SOAPnet realize that the key to higher ratings is BETTER STORYTELLING. We want better stories. And the vets we grew up with telling them. Not "hot" 20-somethings who cannot act their way out of a paper bag. AMC: bring back Brooke, and Dixie (not ghost-Dixie, there are too many ghosts on ABC and it is not good TV). Get new headwriters AGAIN who actually care about the show, and who remember what happened last week, and who will never make me watch Zach Slater POLE-DANCING!?! Empowering? How about skanky. The only thing good about the whole show right now is the Hubbards. I believe that is because Angie Nixon is writing that (being "consulted") so that should tell you something. OLTL: Is pretty good but could be better. We need better acted, more fleshed out minority characters. So, I am sorry but Talia, the Vegas, Vincent, Shawn, etc. need to go. Layla can stay, but only if they give her a back story, some history. She''s been on the show for over 3 years and we have no idea who she is, that is unacceptable. Give back Tina Lord!! Speaking of powerful strong women whose children are nothing like them, Sara and Adriana have got to go and must only come back if they are to be portrayed by actresses and storylines that are worthy of the next generation of Diva. GH: is just trash. There are too many mobsters. Enough with the mobsters. Sonny and Jason take up too much of the show. They murder people for profit. That is not a good thing to do for a living. So having women fall all over them in one breath and then telling me how good mothers they are in the next is a bit ridiculous. Both men need to be out of the mob for good. The whole town needs to be out of the mob. And we need to focus on the HOSPITAL (remember the whole concept of the show in the first place... General HOSPITAL). Where are the vets, where are the Quartermaines (please stop killing them off and bring some back), where is Genie Francis and Robert Scorpio? Where is Helena? Every bad guy that comes to town doesn''t have to be tied to the mob or a serial killer. Better stories will bring these shows better ratings. Just look to the glory days of the early 90s for inspiration.
SOAPnet: is a channel for soaps. Therefore, they should only show soaps. I only watch that channel for soaps. If I want to watch crappy Lifetime movies, I watch Lifetime. Where is AnotherWorld, Port Charles, The City, Loving, Dallas, Dynasty, Paper Dolls, etc. These are the SOAPS that I wish to see on SOAPnet. Not more reality TV. People watch soaps to escape from reality.
Miry AM - 4/5/2008 11:44:00 AM EDT
No related content found.
No Top Articles
Digital Rapids provides market-leading software and hardware solutions, technology and expertise for transforming live and on-demand video to reach wider audiences on the latest viewing platforms more efficiently, more effectively and more profitably. Empowering applications from..more