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Soapnet In Movie Cycle

SoapNet is looking for a little “S N M.” Targeting new viewers through further expansion of its programming portfolio, SoapNet will make its initial foray into the movie business next month, teeing up a series of Sunday-night films.

Acquired from Disney-ABC Domestic Television, the dozen pictures presented under the tongue in cheek banner “S N M” (for Sunday Night Movies) are largely from the romantic-thriller genre. Theatricals include Full Frontal, starring Julia Roberts, and Deception with Viggo Mortensen, as well as telefilm Deadly Sins with Alyssa Milano and Double Cross with Kelly Preston.

The movie maneuver, beginning Dec. 2 at 10 p.m. with C. Thomas Howell in Dangerous Indiscretion, continues the diversification of SoapNet beyond the day-and-date time-shifted delivery of network soap operas.

The channel, now in 67 million homes, brought in younger audiences through the April acquisitions of recent primetime sudsers The O.C. and One Tree Hill, and the summer debuts of original docudrama Fashionista Diaries and General Hospital: Night Shift.

Night Shift, the network's top-rated show, has Disney-ABC Television Group president, daytime Brian Frons eyeing other original extensions of soaps One Life To Live and The Young and the Restless. But for now, he wants to see how the films perform in the 10 p.m. to midnight slot previously occupied by library General Hospital episodes.

“Rather than presenting a fifth run of the show that week and going up against ABC's heavy artillery [Brothers and Sisters] on Sunday night, we wanted to see if we could build our audience by attracting some new viewers with films that have soap appeal,” he said.

According to Frons, who took on daily leadership last month after former general manager Deborah Blackwell said she would be leaving next year, the network talked to SoapNet viewers around the time it purchased The O.C. and One Tree Hill. “They held a broader view of what the network could be than what we thought,” he said.

SoapNet will run promos sporting such tag lines as “S N M because you've been so good all weekend” and “who knew Sunday nights could be so controversial.” There will also be interstitials looking at the soap or the star behind the movie. The network has also bought ad time promoting “S N M.”