ABC Blew an Opportunity When It Announced It Was Killing ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’

May 4, 2011

[Editor's Note: This is the first entry from a new TVWeek Open Mic blogger, Arthur Sando. Sando is a public relations/corporate communications specialist who has worked with some of the most dynamic individuals and companies in the TV industry, most notably Ted Turner and his Turner Broadcasting, and Roger King and his King World. This commentary first appeared on Jeff Grimshaw's The TV News, which can be found at www.thetvnews.tv, and we appreciate Jeff letting us reprint it.]

It’s really not so much what ABC did, but how they did it when the network recently announced it was canceling "All My Children" and "One Life to Live."  Nobody disputes the fact that the audience for soap operas is aging and shrinking, and that soaps are becoming economically unfeasible to produce.

But ABC’s canceling of two 40-year-old institutions with practically no notice was a tremendous jolt to an extremely loyal audience.

There are probably no fans more loyal than soap fans. Many of them schedule their day around what they affectionately call “my shows,” and a lot of them have done that for a long time, and have developed a very personal relationship with the characters in these shows. So it should be no surprise that this news has caused a profound sense of loss and anger among those viewers who are really going to miss their daily dose of soaps.

Certainly, the writing has been on the wall for some time that this day would come, so I think ABC blew an opportunity to prepare its audience. Six months ago, it could have told viewers that if the numbers didn’t improve, the shows would be canceled. That really could have motivated fans to take some action.

Now, judging by activity on Facebook, it’s clear that many fans are up in arms, so while it may be too late to save "All My Children" and "One Life To Live," the network should show that it cares and reach out to these fans, solicit their thoughts and engage them in a social media dialogue to let them know that their ideas are being heard, that their feelings are being considered and that they are, indeed, part of the process.

By making viewers feel shut out, ABC risks breaking a bond of trust with a significant and reliable core audience. And in today’s fractured television universe, that’s the last thing a network should be doing.#

28 Comments

  1. Bottom line — the networks care more about their profits than their audiences. That is just as much a factor in why the ratings are the way they are as fragmentation, segmentation and competition.

  2. ABC has already lost me….whether they save my soaps or not, they have broken my trust 100%. I will NEVER stop watching my soap operas and if that means I have to tune into ABC for 3 hours a day I will but that is all the support it will get from me. They have flat out LIED to the viewers and the cast and crew and have been so mean and heartless that I don’t know if I will EVER be able to trust them again.
    And this is coming from me, a huge abc fan and supporter ever since i was 4 years old….i have been all about ABC because they aired my soaps….but for them to have just killed my family…I am heartbroken and angry that they won’t even give me the time of day now

  3. I am absolutely disgusted with abc. Taking off these shows that have been on for so long. How about gaining more viewers with advertisements etc. What a shame abc. You have lost me as a viewer after the last episode of oltl. I will never forgive you for this.

  4. After watching both All My Children& One Life To Live for most of my life,I would like to tell one & all that if these shows are cancelled, you will be hurting not only the wonderful actors/actresses,but millions of people who have been loyal to these shows for 40 years. It is a horrible shame that those who even considered cancelling could conceive of such a plam.Please dont allow this to happen!

  5. Aging and shrinking audiences? Ouch! And ABC wouldn’t know WHO is watching these shows because the rating system is antiquated. My daughters and nieces watch them…ages 20-27. I am 46. My sister is 51. A good friend of mine watches and she is 74. So if ABC had done ANY research, they would have found a treasure trove of loyal fans and customers who buy the products of the advertisers. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb.

  6. I am so disgusted by the news that AMC has been canceled. We all here watch it daily for the story and fun. I hope that someone at ABC, which lately has been out of touch with viewers and dollars spent,can still reverse this action. I have never tried to campaign on behalf of any program before but darn it this is wrong.
    This is a good program with millions of people watching daily..just ’cause Oprah quit why screw up everything???

  7. It’s because of these soaps that I am a loyal ABC network viewer. If these soaps are cancelled, I will not watch one ABC network show! These shows have “hooked” people for decades, four for me, something the new shows don’t stand a chance in h… of doing. We do not want more food/health shows – we want our soaps! Thank you for this article! :)

  8. Please do not end all my children or one life to live my mom said if these’s two shows go off the air she no longer needs cable. She is a older ladie and looks foward to these shows everyday. So do I and most people I know.

  9. I have been watching these shows for many, many years and hate that they will be replaced with reality junk. REALITY what a joke, I think we have enough of that type of show. PLEASE reconsider ending OLTL and AMC and let us escape REALITY for a couple of hours a day. Thank you for letting me voice my opinion.

  10. ABC is a business, I get that. What I don’t understand is basing their ratings numbers on an antiquated system,which have yet to take into account the number of households who use DVR’s and TIVO to record their programs for viewing later; or the use of the internet. If the system were revised to include these households, I bet they would see a number shift higher than what the Neilson’s have been telling them. Instead they’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater and lost loyal ABC and ABC cable program customers.

  11. ABC, to me, had always been THE channel for family entertainment and values. I was a very loyal viewer. Now I do not watch anything but my soaps. They have lied to viewers and the cast and crew of the soaps. I will not condone this! All they care about is money. So sad!
    To help us try to save our soaps please go to: https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_208782609143799&ap=1

  12. Cindy Clark I HAVE NEVER MESSED A DAY OF AMC OR OLTL NOT EVEN IN THE HOSPITAL.I HAVE BEEN THERE WATCHING NOT TAPING AND RE WATCHING THE GOOD EPISODES ON SOAP NET.I HAVE DIRECTV BUT I AM NOT COUNTED.DAUGHTER TIME WARNER DAUGHTER IN LAW COMCAST.JAMIE OLIVER’S SHOW THE REVOLUTION DIDN’T MAKE IT.DR OZ DAUGHTER (PUKE).I HAVE FOUR COOKING CHANNELS TO WATCH-NOT ABC FOR THIS.NO I AM NOT GOING TO GET OVER IT.RATINGS ARE UP THERE YOU JUST WANT YOUR FRIENDS IN THERE NOT SAVING MONEY.OLTL IS UNDER BUDGET.SO KEEP. SOAPNET MAKE IT A PRMIUM CHANNEL AND I ‘LL EVEn WATCH COMMERICALS AND PAY FOR IT!

  13. When my soaps are gone so will I. Sadly they only think of money and young on this network. Thy even couldn’t get soapnet right.
    They could have removed the non soaps that are there and added AMC and OLTO. And return to the other soaps that they once aired there. Some day the young the chase now will to old for them too!
    My Disney memory will not be a good one!

  14. This shows just how heartless the people running ABC really are, and that they are just out for money. It shows that they don’t care about all of the people’s lives that they are destroying, especiaaly all of the wonderful, caring, talented actors that they are putting out of work! All of their loyal true fans think of our soaps so much more than just “tv programs” but they are a huge part of our lives and our hearts, and we thnk of a lot of the actors as part of our families.
    Both AMC and OLTL deals with every day issues that so many of us go through and we learn so much from them!
    So many of us have grown up watching them for over half of our lives, and we strongly relate to and love so many of the acors that star in our soaps.
    My daughters which are 31 and 27 also have watched them many years so it’s not just centered around a certain age group.
    We are all three through with ABC and Disney and my daughter has 3 children, so just think of how this reflects from all of us loyal, disappointed, and heartbroken soap fans!

  15. I’ve been a daytime fan for 35 years. I have been watching AMC and OLTL since 1976 and to think that one day soon I won’t be able to turn on the TV to watch them is heartbreaking. Once OLTL airs it’s final show I will be saying good-bye to ABC forever! Daytime TV was there only good programming anyway.
    ABC doesn’t care about the many viewers of these shows all they care about is destroying daytime TV. Not only are they stabbing the loyal fans in the back with their constant lies but they are stabbing the wonderful actors and actresses, producers and crews that work on these shows. They are also stabbing Anges Nixon.
    They don’t care if the new shows ratings are lower than AMC and OLTL…which clearly shows me they have a heart blacker than the night sky. I hope that one day someone with the same black heart and dagger cancels ABC…then they will know what it feels like to lose something they care about very much.

  16. I am a relatively new viewer to ABC as I switched over to it when CBS cancelled Guiding Light and As the World Turns and replaced them with a game show and a talk show knock off of The View. I informed CBS that I wouldn’t be watching their daytime line up when they cancelled ATWT and I have stuck to it. Based on comments from network execs at BOTH networks, The people in charge at both networks/production companies (GL and ATWT were owned by P & G, just aired on CBS) do not seem care about viewer loyalty, just the bottom line. They think they can get the same number of viewers that they got airing these shows that they can get with the soaps but for a fraction of the cost to air the soaps. When AMC and OLTL go off the air, I am not going to switch back to CBS nor will I switch to NBC.

  17. Too bad Oprah can’t save AMC or OLTL. They would be better than what her new cable channel are offering.
    This is a tragedy to be losing two great shows. ABC has nothing to offer other than these two shows and Oprah. I hope ABC will regret taking such good TV from so many loyal fans. This is beyond HORRIBLE!!! The shows that are replacing AMC and OLTL are just more crap. We can watch cooking shows on cable. Who wants to watch them anyhow? I work and will not waste time to even DVR anything ABC has to offer anymore.
    I HOPE YOU TANK ABC!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. ABC just pissed in it’s warm spot. The Chew and The Revolution, really? Not even an attempt at original fare? Has been hosts and copycat ideas? And ‘The Chew’ has to be the worst name ever. Chew what? Tobacco? Chewbaca? I guess it’s better than Mastication. Aside from Bachelor, when is the last time ABC did reality right? Or Brian Frons? His entire daytime lineup, affiliate schedules, & SoapNet’s conversions are in question and he’s losing Regis AND Oprah. Young & Restless, Bold & Beautiful, Days & the Talk are going to net up angry ABC soap fans. We are a loyal bunch & hold a grudge. I’ve watched AMC & OLTL for 40 years. ABC & it’s sponsors can kiss my cardio toned, disposable income spending, married with children, pop culture loving, open to knew products buying ass good-bye. My response to ABC’s cancellation of ALL MY CHILDREN after 40 years: ‘Chew’ on this ABC! Frons was disrespectful to the cast, crews & viewers who were there eons before Frons. They could have let AMC finish the year after the holidays. Frons & ABC can go to Hell.
    Shadow

  19. They don’t really care about the daytime ratings they don’t want to pay for cast and crew and as Susan Lucci said they will be able to pocket 40% more of sponsors money to have CHEAP tv to replace it. Disney is equally to blame as they wanted the soaps gone since they bought ABC. They hide behind Brain Frons. They have just thrown our soaps away and now caught in more lies with telling the fans of GH that their show is safe when they are right now making a 20 million dollar contract with the boring Katie Couric to replace GH. Than they cancel Jamie Oliver’s The Food Revolution the one show making a difference for childhood obesity. This makes me so angry the moral decision behind this one. Now Brothers and Sisters is about to be cancelled too. All replaced with CHEAP TV so they can pocket the advertising dollar and put little money into the show. We have boycotted all ABC shows except the soaps and for me Jamie Oliver for his purpose. Once these shows are gone I will never watch another ABC show again. We may not be Neilson box owners but the sponsors are well aware of the millions of people that won’t be watching and with only 21,000 neilson boxes in the US counting towards the entire US is really strange to me in the 21st century. I think they don’t want to know so they can make these financial decisions and trick the sponsors. ABC is losing it’s reputation and your right ignoring us was the worst thing they could have done. On Brian Fron’s and Anne Sweeney’s answering machines it says if you have a comment or complaint about a program your message will be deleted automatically. How professional. Corporate Greed will kick them in the ass real soon when all their new shows fail and than those replacements fail and so on. You have to be a neilson box user (rare clearly) and than for daytime physical watch the show live and not DVR it like you could for primetime, online viewing doesn’t count, and if you are a primetime viewer with a box if you record it you can’t press pause for more than 25 seconds to become a non live viewer which accounts for a lot with how few have boxes and if you fast forward through commercials than same thing. The people viewing these shows is so much higher and younger age groups do watch these shows. I am 25 and all my friends watched it in our dorm and talked about it and my parents and grandparents have watched for 40+ years. So sad

  20. They don’t really care about the daytime ratings they don’t want to pay for cast and crew and as Susan Lucci said they will be able to pocket 40% more of sponsors money to have CHEAP tv to replace it. Disney is equally to blame as they wanted the soaps gone since they bought ABC. They hide behind Brain Frons. They have just thrown our soaps away and now caught in more lies with telling the fans of GH that their show is safe when they are right now making a 20 million dollar contract with the boring Katie Couric to replace GH. Than they cancel Jamie Oliver’s The Food Revolution the one show making a difference for childhood obesity. This makes me so angry the moral decision behind this one. Now Brothers and Sisters is about to be cancelled too. All replaced with CHEAP TV so they can pocket the advertising dollar and put little money into the show. We have boycotted all ABC shows except the soaps and for me Jamie Oliver for his purpose. Once these shows are gone I will never watch another ABC show again. We may not be Neilson box owners but the sponsors are well aware of the millions of people that won’t be watching and with only 21,000 neilson boxes in the US counting towards the entire US is really strange to me in the 21st century. I think they don’t want to know so they can make these financial decisions and trick the sponsors. ABC is losing it’s reputation and your right ignoring us was the worst thing they could have done. On Brian Fron’s and Anne Sweeney’s answering machines it says if you have a comment or complaint about a program your message will be deleted automatically. How professional. Corporate Greed will kick them in the ass real soon when all their new shows fail and than those replacements fail and so on. You have to be a neilson box user (rare clearly) and than for daytime physical watch the show live and not DVR it like you could for primetime, online viewing doesn’t count, and if you are a primetime viewer with a box if you record it you can’t press pause for more than 25 seconds to become a non live viewer which accounts for a lot with how few have boxes and if you fast forward through commercials than same thing. The people viewing these shows is so much higher and younger age groups do watch these shows. I am 25 and all my friends watched it in our dorm and talked about it and my parents and grandparents have watched for 40+ years. So sad

  21. Oh yeah I can feel ABC now. Let’s show we care about the viewers who are no longer watching the genre. Less and less watching, average viewer 50 plus and losing money on production. ABC is more worried about the advertiser backlash than a few complaining, whining viewers. And the advertising community will calm down and realize that there are other media available for them to place their commercials. Seriously would you expect a company to keep producing content that loses money? Just because the viewers are upset? No viewer is prepared to lose their favorite show but remember this and this one is easy. TV shows get canceled all the time. All at once, “GET OVER IT.”

  22. The final ratings ABC gets from Nielsen definitely does take into account DVR users.

  23. This isn’t anything new for ABC as some of the same principals are involved with the lifetime network. Disney is tied to ABC which has ties to lifetime. I know of at least two shows that fans BEGGED lifetime to renew but the pleas just fell on deaf ears. In at least one instance I know there was an ad that ran in Variety on-line during the Emmy’s time period, postcards were written, phone calls were made, other networks were contacted but nothing could be done because lifetime wouldn’t let go of the show. They didn’t want it but didn’t want anyone else to have it either. They lied for months telling fans it was on the bubble. Then they lied about it not getting decent ratings which wasn’t the case. I don’t recall very many times that lifetime has ever been in the top 20 rated networks. Maybe women have moved past wanting to watch Victim of the Week movies or falling for the “some day your prince will come and make everything better for you, even though he beat the stuffing out of you a week before” movies which is what lifetime specializes in. Good thing they stopped using the network for women slogan as they have no idea what women want. When female fans were begging for particular shows they ignored them. Take heed networks, ignore the fans and eventually you will pay the price. There are too many things out in the “real” world that we can do other than sit and watch your shows, especially if you don’t give us what we want to see.
    On August 27, 2009, A&E Television Networks, the owner of A&E Network, History and others, acquired Lifetime Entertainment Services.[2][3] Though the channel is owned by another subsidiary company operated as a joint venture, Lifetime and its networks remain under the co-ownership of The Walt Disney Company and Hearst Corporation, though NBC Universal became partial owner of the Lifetime channels as well since NBCU already was a part owner of A&E Television Networks.

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  25. I will never watch the new show. Most older persons have no interest in reality shows.

  26. I have seen both All My Children& One Life To Live for most of my life, and it hurts me as well as millions of people who have been loyal to these shows for 40 years. Thank you for letting me voice my opinion

  27. I still say save our soaps!!

  28. Well i must say i was never a fan but still i feel sad for this, as there are a lot of people that wound enjoy a bit more airtime.
    But i agree, soap is going the drain, maybe it would be time to come up with a new concept.

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