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End of DAYS: What will happen to soap?


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This piece originally appeared on Nov. 30, 2005, on the Convergence Culture Consortium from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Sam Ford blogs weekly there about soap operas in relation to fan cultures and innovative storytelling and marketing campaigns, in addition to blogging about many other new media issues updated multiple times daily.  You can visit his blog here.

NBC's longtime soap opera Days of Our Lives may have just celebrated its 40th anniversary last week, but there is talk, evidenced by an article in this week's Soap Opera Digest, that the show could end up on the cutting block around this time next year.

According to the article, the soap may soon have to consider other distribution options. The President of NBC Entertainment, Kevin Reilly, addressed the cast and crew at the meeting, claiming that Corday Productions and their partner Sony Pictures Television should consider other options, like Video iPod feeds, mobile phones for distribution, etc.

"We're going to be working very hard trying to figure out how we will keep this great franchise alive," Reilly said, noting the constant flux of the main networks these days in trying to keep content fresh that involved constantly shifting lineups.

NBC indicated that they were in constant conversation with Sony about alternate distribution methods should the show be taken off the network but said it was Sony's decision, since NBC doesn't own the show.

Ken Corday signed with NBC in 2003 for a three year deal with a two-year option, meaning that the end of 2006 may see DAYS attempting these new forms of distributions we have been discussing in the consortium.

Other talk, such as a discussion on the Media Domain message board for DAYS, indicates many believe the "great franchise" could end up on ABC, FOX, or the cable network SOAPNET.

These rumors come at a time when soaps have settled into a much lower ratings than they had 20 years or even a decade ago, as cable competition for daytime programming proliferates. DAYS remains a fairly popular soap in comparison with its competitors and almost always does better than most in the key young female demographics.

However, these threats reflect an overall downsizing of the soap opera industry with lower ratings than in former times and what many perceive as a major drop in quality of the DAYS show in particular.

What do you all think? What are the implications if a major TV franchise like DAYS, with a 40-year history, starts using the iPod or mobile phones as the primary means of distribution?

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