Kristen Baldwin explains the new all-soaps channels and looks at the future of a genre that's seen better days

By Kristen Baldwin
Updated May 10, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
Advertisement

Another World

type
  • TV Show
network
  • NBC
genre

The latest from the world of soap operas

With the recent resolution of the ultimate soap opera cliff-hanger — NBC deciding to cancel the 34-year-old ”Another World” to make way for the new soap ”Passions” — the future of the soap industry seemed, well, somewhat washed up. When a half-century-old genre comes to the point where the addition of a new show forces the cancellation of a much-loved veteran, you may as well cue the ominous organ music.

But recent news should bring soap fans hope that there’s still reason to tune in tomorrow. Last month, ABC announced the launch of its new all-soaps channel which will hit televisions in January of 2000, and it’ll feature same-day rebroadcasts of their entire daytime lineup: ”Port Charles,” ”All My Children,” ”One Life to Live” and ”General Hospital.” This news made the ABC affiliates very unhappy — it means viewers can bypass their channels and go straight to cable — but it also means that in the face of declining ratings, networks are still taking soaps seriously.

Then came Friday’s announcement that Columbia TriStar Television Group plans to launch a COMPETING all-soaps cable channel, SoapCity, also coming in January of 2000. The slate is a little less formed, as CTTG only currently holds the rights to one show, NBC’s ”Days of Our Lives,” but reportedly the company hopes to secure rebroadcast rights for Procter and Gamble soaps ”Guiding Light,” ”As the World Turns” and even ”Another World.” (Does this mean the now-canceled soap will stay in production? An ”AW” spokeswoman would only say, ”At this time, there are a lot of options.”) We’ll see how successful CTTG is in getting ”GL” and ”ATWT” from CBS; ABC owns its shows, so it can air them again wherever they want, but CBS affiliates will not likely hand over rights for their dramas to SoapCity without a nasty fight.

Even if the all-soaps cable channels get mired in legal wrangling between affiliates and production companies, there’s another cable option for soap lovers that’s a sure thing: USA’s upcoming serial, ”The Avenue,” set to premiere (yet again) in January of 2000. Shot on location in New York City and based in Queens, the soap will focus on Quinn, a young ambitious woman who works in Manhattan, and the boy she grew up with who, of course, has loved her his whole life.

All of this news makes it clear that the bubble hasn’t burst for soap opera just yet. Numbers may be down, creatively many shows may be in a slump (in my opinion, ”General Hospital” has never been duller), and it may be harder to build viewership for new shows, but the fact remains that soap fans are the most loyal and involved viewers a network can have. Win them over and you have a customer for life. Let’s just hope that come July 5, when ”Passions” debuts, angry ”Another World” fans don’t boycott NBC to the point where the newcomer can’t find an audience at all. Lately, soap publications have been filled with letters from heartbroken ”AW” devotees, declaring that they will never, ever watch this horrid impostor that’s replacing their favorite soap. Those viewers are definitely right to feel slighted, but they’d be smart to remember that even with all the encouraging developments, soaps still have a long way to go in rebuilding their once-dominant place in the market. Killing a new show out of spite won’t help anybody in the long run.

Episode Recaps

Another World

type
  • TV Show
rating
genre
status
  • In Season
network
  • NBC

Comments