Prime-time telecast on cable net could spark new ad opportunities
ABC is close to approving a plan to rerun its weekday soap operas at night on the Q2 home shopping channel.
Two-year-old Q2 is a sister service of QVC; both are majority owned by Comcast Corp., the nation's fourth-largest cable systems operator.
The discussions have progressed to "a very serious level," said executives with knowledge of the talks.
Initial plans call for ABC's soap lineup--"The City," "All My Children," "One Life to Live" and "General Hospital"--to be shown on Q2 during prime time.
FOR WORKING WOMEN
"It could be later than that," said one of the executives, "but then that would lose a lot of the point" of the move because the episodes would then need to be videotaped. With more women in the workplace, daytime soaps are among the shows most often taped for later viewing.
Merchandising elements would also likely be built into the time block, offering show memorabilia, for example.
Also under discussion is whether to strip the national advertising out of the shows and sell new ads, or leave the day's commercials in each show.
New national spots, or local cable ads, could be inserted during local breaks between the shows, during which there are six 30-second spot availabilities.
"That will probably become a more interesting discussion once Q2 is in more homes," said one of the executives.
By hooking up with Q2, ABC would have access to the 11 million homes that carry the service.
At the time of its 1994 launch, Q2 reportedly had agreements to be in 32 million homes by the end of next year. A QVC spokeswoman declined to comment on Q2 subscriber agreements.
Would ABC's local affiliates object to such a deal?
"It's unlikely that ABC would do this without their cooperation," said one of the executives. ABC declined comment.
Rich Frank, chairman-CEO of C3, formed last year by Comcast to develop programming concepts, is said to be brokering the deal on the Comcast side. He declined comment.
Mr. Frank is a former executive at Walt Disney Co., the new parent of Capital Cities/ABC.
C3 is also believed to have talked with Sony Entertainment, which would like to see cable carriage for reruns of its "The Young & the Restless" and "Days of Our Lives," broadcast on CBS and NBC, respectively.
The other major daytime soap player is Procter & Gamble Co., producer of "As the World Turns," and "Guiding Light," both broadcast by CBS, and NBC's "Another World."
P&G executives met with Home Shopping Network executives last year to discuss a plan similar to the one ABC is talking about with QVC, insiders say.
"It's clear that the home shopping audience is very compatible to the soap opera one in terms of demographics," one of the insiders explained.
At that time, the plan under consideration called for P&G to spend some of its spot ad dollars on local cable systems as an incentive for cable operators to accept the soap programming block. The P&G/HSN plan never proceeded past the discussion phase.
Cable operator Tele-Communications Inc., the majority owner of HSN, also owns a stake in QVC.
Copyright March 1996 Crain Communications Inc.