It’s no “Arrested Development,” but Hulu is today announcing that it, too, is bringing TV programs back from the dead. (Coming back from the dead – hey, that sounds like a soap plot!). Hulu has now signed a deal with media production Prospect Park to air the previously canceled soap operas “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” on Hulu and Hulu Plus, where they’re air in addition to Apple’s iTunes.
Though clearly not the kind of programming that everyone enjoys, soap operas have a core audience of fans addicted to their cliff-hanging story lines, and often serve as the launch pad for actors who later go on to do higher quality work. In the past, soap opera alumni has included household names like Demi Moore, Julianne Moore, Meg Ryan, Kevin Bacon, Susan Sarandon, Eva Longoria, Ryan Phillippe, Teri Hatcher, Ray Liotta, Kelsey Grammer, Tommy Lee Jones, and dozens of others.
So knock ’em if you must, but it’s a living. And a long-time part of the Hollywood machine.
That being said, with the variety of TV programming choices which have emerged over the years, and viewers’ changing tastes (let’s even go so far as to say “more sophisticated tastes,” shall we?), these types of programs have fallen in ratings, leading to “One Life to Live’s” final airing on ABC in January 2012 after 43+ years of being on TV. “All My Children” had wrapped the previous fall, after 41 years.
That’s, like, nearly twice as long as “The Simpsons,” to give you an idea.
Starting this spring, the shows will return with a new, now shorter 30-minute episode each weekday, with the exact launch to be announced at a later date.
Prospect Park, which runs its own online network called, very creatively, “The Online Network,” will also feature the shows, as will Apple’s iTunes.
The new agreement with Hulu will allow it to manage the ad sales for the two soaps, and package them for other integrated sponsorship opportunities. Hulu will also promote them across its free and subscription-based platform, Hulu and Hulu Plus.
The production company has been trying to revive these shows for some time now, after first licensing the content from ABC in mid-summer 2011. Prospect Park tried bringing them to cable TV, but those deals fell through due to funding and negotiations with the various unions involved in such a venture.
But it has now closed on a consulting agreement with Agnes Nixon, the two series’ creator, as well as deals with labor groups the Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the Directors Guild of America, in order to get the actors back, as well as another deal with the Writer’s Guild of America. And it has closed its financing with ABRY Partners, the company says.
Now the bigger question is whether or not the remaining fans, who may or may not reflect the demographic profile of your average Hulu or iTunes user, will return to find their shows on their new online homes.
Hulu recently announced its slate of original programming and exclusive series for 2013. The network has invested in a handful of originals, and has expanded its Exclusive Series lineup to 20 on-demand TV shows to date.