The big US television news of the day is that ABC is cancelling its long running day time soaps, All My Children and One Life to Live. In the age of user-generated content, ABC felt that these shows were no longer viable. The size of the cast, the scale of the production, the idea of a sustained audience have all become anachronistic. There has been vehement protest from fans, but it is hard to imagine that there will be an easy way to keep these kinds of shows. There are more than 300,000 fans for both shows on Facebook and over 11,000 people have an opinion on the announcement about the cancellation of the shows. Will these numbers grow? We’ll see.
I was strangely unsurprised to hear of this cancellation decision; I must admit though that I was surprised to hear of how long some of these shows have been on the air. Why was I not surprised?
The packaging seems dated? The notion of story lines developed over decades and characters with convoluted personal histories make it near impossible for an individual to track it all. Who has the time to engage with this?
Content is not current?: Dynastic tales of complex interpersonal relationships, multiple marriages, the hyper-focus on a singular group for years all seem so different from the range and variety we see in the world of entertainment today. As television challenged radio programming, Interweb entertainment is causing changes in television programming.
No scope for customization?: Today people seek entertainment in personal portions. iTunes and Hulu have made us comfortable with the idea of listening to my songs and watching my shows. More often than not this consumption is private – the idea of soaps as a family or friends shared experience over a sustained period of time seems quaint.
Facebook offers more excitement?: Why watch a fictional character make strange life choices when you can see your friends and family doing it? And this alternative offers the thrill of being able to offer advice.
Reality melodrama costs less?: As we all know, this is the real reason for ABC’s choice. Day time soaps have a steady and loyal audience and do well in ratings. But the shows cost money. Reality shows will cost less and the same kind of melodrama can be managed there also – unscripted and spontaneously!
Daytime soap fans, the time has come to say goodbye. It is time now for The Chew and The Revolution!