April 9, 2007
SOAPnet Leaves Some Ardent Fans Feeling Betrayed, Questioning the Brand Identity of the Network

There are still several angry viewers out there, and the new approach by TV network SOAPnet leaves many questioning whether the company was in it to be the Long Tail platform it had originally claimed.

The cable channel, which has been built around airing several daytime soap operas in the evening after they air on their main networks during the day, has supplemented that material with content from the archives of popular cancelled soaps like Another World and Ryan's Hope...that is until a new daytime lineup came along and bumped off a lot of the soaps.

Now, instead of Another World, the channel will feature One Tree Hill, The O.C., reruns of ABC Family's Falcon Beach, and is featuring regular airings of Dallas as well--four hours a day, in fact. The network will also be launching General Hospital: Night Shift later this year, as I wrote about last month.

Ryan's Hope has been moved from its daily airing to Sunday morning and will now air from 6 a.m. until 7 a.m. Further, the short-lived Port Charles has been moved to 6 a.m. on Saturday only. Considering that, as Daniel R. Coleridge with TV Guide notes, the Another World reruns were averaging a 0.0 in the Nielsen's among the target 18-49 female demographic, that's not a good sign. Of course, it's also probably a sign that the Nielsen's don't help much when trying to measure Long Tail targeted material of the type that SOAPnet is pushing, but that's another story.

The question raised by the fans of these classic soaps is what the point of SOAPnet was, if it's going to now feature significant content from primetime shows that these fans argue aren't really even soap operas and that primetime dramas like The O.C. and 90210 and Dallas don't fit into the brand identity of a soap opera cable network.

Of course, considering the traditional system of cable advertising sales and the centrality of the Nielsen ratings, one can hardly argue with the changes SOAPnet is making, but it nevertheless angers a lot of real and dedicated soap opera fans, for instance the 1,327 signatures on an Another World petition that has been circulating. There are currently 577 signatures on a Ryan's Hope petition circling as well.

Fan boards have been alive with plans for write-ins, further petitions, and voice mails to the powers that be at SOAPnet to voice their displeasure.

For instance, fan Luray on the Soap Central board writes:

Frons is all about attracting young, hip viewers. What he doesn't realize is:

a) People in his adored demographic of 18-34 are watching this show, too.
b) I have more money to spend on advertisers' products than a 25-year-old
c) I'm 48 years old and I'm pretty damn hip!

An often-viewed post over on Snark Weighs In says:

The Soapnet audience is small. And as long as it revolves around current daytime soaps, third-rate original programming, and endless reruns of 90's/early 2000's fare, I don't see it growing much further. Now, it appears Soapnet is willing to fritter away the most loyal viewers they have, in what is, at best, a weak bid at picking up a few thousand younger viewers. That's at best. Because even going by that reasoning, I want to know how a schedule aimed at grabbing younger demos includes four hours a day of Dallas.

Many fans said they specifically purchased digital cable and asked their local carrier to pick up SOAPnet so they could see this content and that they felt cheated after the amount of work they put into getting SOAPnet launched in so many markets, that they were used as the proselytizers on the ground level only to be dumped when the channel go the national penetration it was looking for.

The question here is still a balance between impressions, in which these shows were not doing well, and the dedication the viewers have to the show. The cancellation is not just about losing programming but a feeling from loyal SOAPnet fans, the most dedicated core of the fan base, that they are not being respected.

See my previous posts about these issues in relation to soaps here and here.

In the meantime, Another World will continue to be featured on PGP Classic Soaps through AOL Video.

Thanks to Therese Moss' e-mail to CMS which helped prod me to finally writing about this, since I had been meaning to for some time.


On April 20, 2007 at 9:49 AM, Mike said:

Why isn't anyone bringing up the big picture in these articles? As of February 2007, Soapnet had about 824,000 total viewers. A Neilsen rating of 1.0 equals approximately 1,114,000. Therefore, Soapnet couldn't achieve a 1.0 rating in total viewers or a particular demographic for any show. Why doesn't someone mention that it would be easier for any show to achieve a 0.0 in a similar circumstance? The fact that I at least have never seen Soapnet's ratings broken down by show? Or the fact that, as far as I know, AW ratings on Soapnet were never released except recently to "justify" its cancellation? I remember hearing that AW was one of Soapnet's highest rated soaps, so what happened?

You seem to still justify cancellations with advertising sales and ratings, when many viewers feel the Nielsens are inaccurate. Not to mention that the major networks have been chasing after the younger demographic for the last few years, only to make the ratings for daytime soaps worse. Any sympathy or understanding you attempted to convey was negated by this comment...

"Of course, considering the traditional system of cable advertising sales and the centrality of the Nielsen ratings, one can hardly argue with the changes SOAPnet is making..."

That comment gives the impression that you actually wanted to say,"Good job Soapnet."


Mike, if you click through my link about college Nielsen ratings, it gets into these very issues that you are covering. A 0.0 just isn't helpful when you are talking about a niche "long tail" channel. Soap Opera Network, as it was originally conceived, is not meant to be one of the top networks on cable, but it's extremely focused at bringing in very dedicated viewers, since soaps are more likely through the seriality to generate this type of interest.

I think you raise interesting questions regarding SOAPnet's ratings, and of course I have no personal access to loads of data on SOAPnet, but I think you are quite right. The problem is that the Nielsen ratings may not cover the territory they need to, on the one hand, but they are the center of the advertising business, and people would rather keep a flawed system than attempt to throw everything out the window. Nielsen's trying to do a lot to help this, but the problem is that Nielsen can only measure behavior and the end and not actual engagement. Some things are just not easily quantifiable, yet the depth of involvement a viewer has with a program is key. SOAPnet viewers may not have the numbers of some other networks, but perhaps those people who do watch are closely engaged with the content in a way that some other programs do not engender.

You say, "You seem to still justify cancellations with advertising sales and ratings, when many viewers feel the Nielsens are inaccurate [ . . . ] Any sympathy or understanding you attempted to convey was negated by this comment [ . . . ] That comment gives the impression that you actually wanted to say,'Good job Soapnet.'"

I think you got quite the wrong message from what I was saying. Mitigating SOAPnet's culpability is not the same as saying good job. I agree wholeheartedly that the system in place is quite inaccurate for the reality of how people engage with programs, but the problem is that SOAPnet still has to work within that system, and the problem is much more with the system as a whole than SOAPnet in particular.

You say that my message is negated by bringing up the reality that, whether Nielsens are accurate or not, it's how advertising is calibrated. I agree completely that making SOAPnet not about soaps anymore is troubling, but the reality is that the shows they are replacing it with will probably do better Nielsen ratings. Does that mean it actually connects better with viewers, that it is, in reality, more valuable? No. But in the metrics this industry runs on, it will be more valuable when it comes to getting ad dollars, and that's a problem the whole industry is dealing with and one SOAPnet will not change on its own.

But if you follow my writing about the Nielsens throughout this blog, you'll know my take on needing a system to make the Nielsens more accurate in what it is trying to measure and simultaneously to have that information tempered with qualitative measures.

On May 3, 2007 at 5:00 PM, Valarie said:

I paid an extra $5.95 per month 2 years ago when I found out that Soapnet was running Another World. I upgraded my package just to have this show.

Since I have TiVo, I can just record my other soaps at their normal time. I only had Soapnet for Another World.

Now that it's gone I don't tune in their channel anymore.

And 4 hours of Dalls is 4 hours too many. Not many 18 -25 year olds care to watch an over weight man in a cowboy hat have a tumble in the sheets with some dumb blond anyway.

It just goes to show you the lack of brains behind the programmers at Soapnet.

I happened to catch an interview with the head of programming, he looked like he had just gotton out of bed and forgot to change his clothes. The only difference between this nut and JR Ewing is that at least JR wears a suit. But, they both appear overweight and desperate to get laid.


Rough words, Valarie! :) But I know that you are speaking out of the anger of having no way to watch your show at this point. And your feeling of betrayal is certainly far from the only one out there, for fans who feel that their efforts and early support established SOAPnet, only to have it dump a major part of the programming that helped convince fan proselytizers to spread the word.

On May 4, 2007 at 8:52 AM, Liz said:

"People in his adored demographic of 18-34 are watching this show, too."

Bet your butt! I'm 20 and Another World is the only show I've watched loyally in years!


Liz, I don't know if you will stop back by this thread again, but I would be interested in knowing, for my own research, what originally got you involvd with Another World.

On May 18, 2007 at 3:43 AM, Judi Gallegos said:

I also rallied my cable company to carry soapnet years ago and only upgraded because of soapnet for Ryan's Hope, I have now gone to basic cable and will not return until Another World and Ryan's Hope return to the daily line up and we only need on Dallas, Beverly 90120 and One Tree Hill and The OC once a day. Hello everyone has Tivo and Dvr's Vcr's these days


Judi, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, and I think you reiterate that sense of betrayal that a lot of fans have expressed. Basically, my understanding is that many of you feel that you were the grassroots advocates who helped get SOAPnet established, only to have the network turn on you once they "made it" into legitimacy.

It reminds me of the wrestling world, where wrestlers from smaller organizations would move on to bigger places, but fans felt that they were "selling out" by leaving the loyal audience who had made them stars for "greener pastures."