June 25, 2007
CBS Streaming Most of Its Soap Operas Online

Great news for daytime soaps fans, and a special thanks to Ivan Askwith--another C3 alum--for passing this along. Three of the four CBS soap operas are now going to be made available through CBS' Web site on a daily basis.

The Young and the Restless and Procter & Gamble soaps As the World Turns and Guiding Light will be streamed in their entirety every day online through CBS Interactive, starting mid-week last week.

The full story is available on Soapdom.

In short, the episodes will be made available every evening starting at 6 p.m., basically providing the service that SOAPnet currently provides but through a different distribution platform. For those who aren't DVRing or setting something to record, or if their device malfunctions, this will be another way to timeshift soap opera viewing.

The plan is to make the episodes available for one week after they air. I think there's a business model in continuing to find a site to house old videos on an on-demand PPV basis, but I don't know when we will get to that point.

In the meantime, this version of cross-platform distribution could be a significant one for the soaps. As the World Turns and Guiding Light have never had a consistent home for alternate viewing for their shows aside from the initial CBS airing and never participated in SOAPnet. At one point, the shows were available on a pay-per-view basis through Web site SoapCity, but that service ended a couple of years ago. For more of my previous writing on SOAPnet, look here.

This new ad-supported CBS Interactive product could be a major help to the P&G soaps in helping gain and retain viewers, especially in providing new channels for current viewers to stay involved in the show, even if they miss a few days. Previously, catching up if one doesn't have DVR or has technological malfunctions could be a challenge for soaps fans.

Gerber will be one of the first major advertisers. For more on CBS Interactive, look here.

The bigger questions are what this might mean for the Y&R evening viewing on SOAPnet, which basically aims to achieve the same purpose. While the audience that watch online might not be the same audience who watches on SOAPnet, at least not entirely, one could imagine that SOAPnet might feel they have something to lose through this new CBS offering.

Meanwhile, there are also the ATWT and GL podcasts, but I believe those have a faithful audience not just because of the catch-up factor. I've heard from plenty of people who used the podcasts as a way to listen to the soaps on a commute or while exercising and quite enjoyed the audio-only version. For more on the PGP podcasts, look here.

I'd also conjecture that the reason that The Bold and the Beautiful was not included is because of the wide variety of international deals the show has, in which a streaming version online might cause problems in other markets where the show airs on a slight delay from when it airs in the U.S.