Ambitious plans to launch an online soap-opera channel around web-only versions of two long-running, recently-canceled ABC series -- "One Life to Live" and "All My Children" -- were suspended on Wednesday.
The economics turned out to make the endeavor impossible in the near term, said Prospect Park, the company that had hoped to produce new episodes of the canceled shows for online distribution.
ABC aired the last episode of "All My Children" in September and plans to run the final "One Life to Live" in January. Prospect Park said it wouldn't be possible to get new episodes ready soon after.
"After five months of negotiations with various guilds, hundreds of presentations to potential financial and technology partners, and a hope that we could pioneer a new network for the future, it is with great disappointment that we are suspending our aspirations to revive 'One Life to Live' and 'All My Children' via online distribution," the company said. "We believed the timing was right to launch an online TV network anchored by these two iconic soap operas, but we always knew it would be an uphill battle to create something historical, and unfortunately we couldn't ultimately secure the backing and clear all the hurdles in time. We believe we exhausted all reasonable options apparent to us, but despite enormous personal, as well as financial cost to ourselves, we failed to find a solution."
The backtrack points to the inherent difficulties of putting TV-style productions online, where recouping costs via ad revenue is a more daunting task. In its statement, Prospect Park cast some blame on the various Hollywood unions.
"While we narrowed in on a financial infrastructure, the contractual demands of the guilds, which regulate our industry, coupled with the program's inherent economic challenges, ultimately led to this final decision," Prospect Park said. "In the end, the constraints of the current marketplace, including the evolution and impact of new media on our industry simply proved too great a match for even our passion."
The writers' and actors' guilds denied that they were the problem. "We were disappointed to learn that Prospect Park's financing fell through," the writers' guild said, for example. "Prior to the end of last week, we were close to a fair deal for the writers."