February 13, 2007
A Soap Spins Off Into Primetime

Dear readers, I've been forced to accept that I will never be as prolific a blogger as my colleague, Sam Ford. And, if I keep waiting to post interesting items to this blog until I am prepared to write on them at length, I'll be holding back on a lot of items that some of you might find interesting.

So to inaugurate my return to the C3 blog, I'm making a symbolic gesture, and presenting a soap-related item that crossed my desk this morning:

The morning briefing from Cynopsis reports:

Based on the ABC daytime soap General Hospital, SOAPnet has ordered 13 one-hour episodes of its first exclusive, serialized drama called General Hospital: Night Shift (wt). The weekly drama will center on the soap's current characters and give viewers an extension of what happens during the nighttime hours at the hospital. The series is expected to premiere this summer and will be cross-promoted during the daytime version of General Hospital on ABC.

Not transmedia in the traditional sense -- no platforms being crossed just yet -- but it's an interesting experiment in creating television spin-offs that remain tightly linked to the narratives of their parent show.

Smart of SOAPnet; if they're going to branch into producing their own series, it's wise to start by capitalizing on an existing audience.

Verdict, Sam?



I don't know if this will work or not, as it of course depends on the quality of the show, how well the creative for the primetime show ties into the creative for the daytime "mothershow," etc.

But it is a great example, Ivan, of how ABC is best poised to revolutionize the future of soap operas. ABC as a network owns all its own soaps, and it also owns SOAPNet.

I didn't even know plans for a primetime soap was underway there, but this is the key way for SOAPnet to extend its reach into more original programming and potentially tell some great carryover stories.

This has been tried before, with As the World Turns launching Our Private World in primetime back in the 1960s. The show lasted a few months during the summer, and I am not sure of the details as to whether it was ever planned for more than that. In that case, a character moved to Chicago (the closest big city to fictional Oakdale, Ill.), and the primetime series followed her life. When Our Private World was cancelled, she ended up moving back to Oakdale, but that primetime text became part of the story world of the show.

Similarly, some shows have crossed into each other at times, with characters from one soap showing up in the town of another for various reasons, and some daytime soaps have spun off from another daytime show.

Nonetheless, SOAPnet provides a new bar for success and the potential for a primetime spinoff that could last long-term, if it's done well.

I think you've hit at the heart of what will determine the success or failure of this series, though, and that is how well the creative of the two shows are linked. If this is executed flawlessly, it serves not only as extra content for a built-in audience from General Hospital but also a less daunting primetime series that, if it gets people hooked, could branch them back to the daily daytime series.

Thanks for passing it along, Ivan! As you know, with as much constant news churning in the media industries right now, it's easy for 95 percent of the events to fall into the cracks, even just looking at soaps. I'm glad you caught this.