A native New Yorker who calls Chelsea home, Mark Yates is no stranger to marketing and distributing television offerings. One of the masterminds behind the As the World Turns DVD collection now available at soapclassics.com, he started with Showtime, and then to Broadway Video in 1994. In 2007, he split BVDM off from Broadway video, and then became president of BVDM (Broadway Video Digital Media). SoapClassics is a division of BVDM, and as its president, Yates brings that wealth of distribution experience to marketing one of Procter & Gamble’s most beloved soap operas – As the World Turns.
Soapdom’s first big question to Yates?
How did SoapClassics come about?
“We had been working with P&G Telenext in preserving and restoring the content of the reels for the classics soaps collection,” Yates revealed. “When the soaps were cancelled, we saw an opportunity to partner with them to both preserve the content and to become the international distributor.”
Yates went on to say that P&G soaps had been airing in certain international markets since the 1980s. “Germany, Italy, the UK. They are still airing in Germany, Iceland, and UK. And we are actively negotiating new deals throughout the world. Broadcasters are interested in the material going back to 1980,” he said. SoapClassics is also in negotiations for foreign language DVD releases in several countries.
“There is interest. It’s been fascinating,” Yates said. “I always knew there was a market, but I didn’t anticipate it to be this robust.”
Nothing that any die hard As the World Turns fan didn’t already know. At Soapdom.com we had ATWT fans from The Netherlands, and quite a few at that.
BDVM estimates there are 30 or 40 million fans worldwide that are interested in this content. “We also believe that under the right conditions and the right media, new younger viewers (will be attracted to the material). Soap operas are what we consider to be the original reality TV.”
Take that Snookie and all you real housewives.
So why did SoapClassics lean toward the Procter & Gamble soap operas to begin with?
“The physical materials were deteriorating,” Yates shared. There is only so much shelf life for video tape. “(Our methods) preserve and digitize the material so it will be available for future generations. It’s what made the deal really compelling for P&G and for us, making sure their asset was preserved, and we were able to become the distributor.” Yates went on to state with a fair amount of pride, “For me personally, I know I was responsible for reserving a huge part of American culture.”
It's clear that Yates is all business in regard to distributing the Procter & Gamble catalog, but when it comes to As the World Turns, that particular soap holds some fond memories for him. It's these family moments that made him choose As the World Turns episodes for the first release.
“It was the soap I watched with my grandmother,” Yates revealed. “Which only serves to demonstrate the emotional attachment everyone has to whatever show for whatever reason.”
The first collection of As the World Turns DVDs is divided into four themes: great weddings, secrets and scandals, Oakdale through the years, and villains and vixens. There is a DVD for each theme, containing five representative episodes each. If sales go as expected, additional collections covering additional themes are planned. But what to choose next?
“One of our huge fan responses was how great the 80s were,” noted Yates. “Expect to see an 80s collection. Also, a collection of the holidays shows.”
“We are really going to open up a lot of dialog with the fans and ask them what they want to see. I’ve got 2100 hours of programming. Logistically and economically, they don’t want necessarily every show back-to-back, season-to-season, end-to-end, but they want to see certain moments, certain characters.”
As fans of As the World Turns, do you agree with Yates on this? Or do you want every episode of every year made available to you? Just asking…
Regardless, if this first As the World Turns DVD collection sells well, not only will more As the World Turns material become available, but other Procter & Gamble soaps will, too.
“If this is successful, there are a number of possibilities,” Yates said. “Two new releases in 2012. Guiding Light, and then the As the World Turns 80s collection.”
But DVDs is not the only form of distribution SoapClassics is considering. “We are also looking to launch an online service, where we would put a significant portion of the entire archive available to stream online.” That means episodes from September 1979 thru end of the series. “They did not record prior to that,” explained Yates. “There are some episodes prior to that at the Paley Center. There are some kinescopes, too and we are working out the rights and ownership issues.”
The overall plan is to get this first compilation out for Christmas to test the market. “As of an hour ago, the fans are going overboard for their support for it.,” enthused Yates.
If all the DVD sales are successful, would SoapClassics consider a return to broadcast of the shows, i.e., producing new episodes?
“As personally exiting as that sounds, we would not. It’s not our forte,” explained Yates. “What we do as a business is distribute libraries that content owners are not in a position to distribute themselves. We would love it if someone else did (produce new episodes of the shows). We would love to partner with someone who would. We have no plans to produce new content, and don’t know of anyone who would.”
Prospect Park, take note. Keep your eye on the success of SoapClassics for possible new original programming for TOLN down the line. But I digress…
Overall, Yates couldn’t be happier with the early buzz. “We are really pleased with the positive feedback we are getting. We are looking for opportunities to get fan input for future releases. I hope they -- the fans -- understand how difficult it is to actually pull this off. It actually takes hundreds of hours of work to locate, restore and prepare the content for the DVDs and we are thankful for their support of the products.”
So fans. It is kind of up to you. Want more As the World Turns on DVD? What to see the whole archive streaming on line? Want to see Guiding Light, Another World and other Procter & Gamble soaps available in DVD and steaming video? Visit SoapClassics and purchase your first collection now.
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