Prospect Park Cancels Plans to Put Soaps Online

One Life to Live and All My Children won't be living on online after all.

According to a statement from Prospect Park, an independent production company founded by Rich Frank and Jeff Kwatinetz, the details couldn't be worked out.

"After five months of negotiations with various guilds, hundreds of presentations to potential financial and technology partners, and a hope that we could pioneer a new network for the future, it is with great disappointment that we are suspending our aspirations to revive One Life to Live and All My Children via online distribution," the two said.

"It is now becoming clear that mounting issues make our ability to meet our deadlines to get OLTL on the air in a reasonable time period following its Jan. 13, 2012, ABC finale impossible."

ABC's All My Children ended its run in September, while One Life to Live goes off the air in January. Those cancellations follow those of CBS' Guiding Light and As the World Turns. Soap operas were once a mainstay of daytime television, but by next fall, only four will remain: CBS' The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, NBC's Days of Our Lives and ABC's General Hospital.

Even the fate of General Hospital, once one of daytime's most popular shows, is unclear as ABC rearranges its daytime schedule, pruning expensive and unrepeatable soap operas in favor of more economical talk shows.

In September, ABC introduced The Chew, featuring celebrity chefs cooking and discussing food, and it will bring on The Revolution, which will take on such topics as weight-loss, fitness and lifestyle, in January.

This fall, the ABC owned stations will air Katie Couric's talk show in the afternoon. To launch that show, ABC gave an hour back to its affiliates, and the return of that hour means that ABC won't have room for The Chew, The Revolution and General Hospital come next fall. 

Prospect Park appears to have run up against some of the same financial obstacles that forced the broadcast networks to cancel soaps.

"We believed the timing was right to launch an online TV network anchored by these two iconic soap operas, but we always knew it would be an uphill battle to create something historical, and unfortunately we couldn't ultimately secure the backing and clear all the hurdles in time," stated Frank and Kwatinetz. "We believe we exhausted all reasonable options apparent to us, but despite enormous personal, as well as financial, cost to ourselves, we failed to find a solution."

"While we narrowed in on a financial infrastructure, the contractual demands of the guilds, which regulate our industry, coupled with the program's inherent economic challenges, ultimately led to this final decision. In the end, the constraints of the current marketplace, including the evolution and impact of new media on our industry simply proved too great a match for even our passion."

At least one of the guilds -- the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists -- stated that it learned of Prospect Park's decision in the press.

"AFTRA was deeply disappointed to read that the executives at Prospect Park have decided to suspend their efforts to produce the long-running and popular daytime serials, One Life to Live and All My Children, via online distribution," said the union in a statement. "Despite initial progress in our negotiations with Prospect Park toward resolving a fair agreement to cover the performers appearing on these programs, we were perplexed and disappointed that for the past month Prospect Park has not responded to our repeated inquiries to resume those discussions. We now conclude from the press reports that Prospect Park faced other challenges unrelated to our negotiations, which prevented continuation of those discussions."

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.