A Second Life for Soap Operas

As daytime drama Days of Our Lives
prepares to reunite current and past characters in a bicentennial celebration of its fictitious town, Salem, the soap has been added to SoapCity.com's download service, allowing viewers to reunite via the Internet with episodes they may have missed.

"There are 260 episodes a year for each of these soap operas," says Mary Coller, senior vice president and general manager of SoapCity. "Once it airs, it's never on again. For soap fans, we have it available for 28 days, giving them the opportunity to download and watch it as many times as they want within the 28-day period."

On the Soapcity.com Web site, soap fans can check up on the latest hookups and breakups of their favorite daytime players. Days
joins The Young and the Restless
and As the World Turns
to the service that SoapCity launched in February. SoapCity Download is available for $9.99 a month or $1.99 per episode. Users need a broadband connection to download the content and the RealOne player to play it back.

"For a soap fan, it's a pretty novel experience to go back and watch yesterday's episode," says Coller, adding that SoapCity hopes to add defunct soaps, such as Santa Barbara
and Another World, along with popular story arcs voted on by the site's users, to lengthen the service's roster.

SoapCity Download makes episodes available to subscribers by 4 p.m. PT the same day they air. A Digital Betacam copy of the program without commercials is encoded at 450 Mb/s by Sony's Digital Authoring Center and then stored on SoapCity's servers, which are located at Qwest's Burbank, Calif., datacenter. From there, the content is delivered to subscribers. The download takes about 10 minutes, depending on connection speed.

Because SoapCity's lineup is not determined by network affiliations, Coller does not rule out the addition of other current dramas to the service. The Web site is owned by Sony and pays licensing fees to the Sony Pictures Television division for Days of Our Lives
and As the World Turns. License fees for The Young and the Restless
are paid to Procter & Gamble.