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'All My (Web) Children'?

Bobbie Eakes (L) and Michael Nouri perform in a scene that airs the week of September 27, 2010 on ABC Daytime's 'All My Children.'

"All My Children" might find a second life online.

ABC cancelled the soap last year because of falling ratings. It was considered another sign of the changing times and viewing habits as network TV faces more competition from cable and the web.

And my how those habits had changed. In the 1970s, daytime soaps were one of TV’s biggest money makers. And "All My Children" was home to one of its most popular characters, Erica Kane, who was played by actor Susan Lucci.

Jamey Giddens, the editorial director "Daytime Confidential," says he got hooked on the soap as a kid.

“I got hooked on soaps because I grew up with my grandparents,” Giddens says, “and older people are a huge demographic of soaps, especially older African-Americans.”

And that aging demographic is, in part, responsible for the soaps' demise on network TV. When ABC cancelled "All My Children" last year, it had an audience of about 2.5 million. In its heyday, its audience was 9 million.

While the ratings don’t pencil out for network TV, the buzz is that the TV production company, Prospect Park, thinks "All My Children" can make money online as a web soap opera series.

Prospect Park didn’t return calls for comment.

But Brad Adgate, a TV analyst with Horizon Media, says it's one of a handful of companies that are looking to experiment with giving old TV shows new life on the web.

“You know, it could make a go of it,” Adgate says. He adds that on the web, a weekly audience of one million is impressive and advertisers are willing to pay for them.

Still questions remain. Will older TV watchers migrate to the web? And can the web version of "All My Children" attract young women? It’s an audience that soaps have lost, says Adgate.

“Younger females are no longer home watching television, they’ working and if they are home they’re probably with their children,” Adgate says.

Jamie Gidden, the editor of Daytime Confidential, says "All My Children" will also have to rely on more than advertising. Advertisers don’t pay nearly as much on the web as they do on TV.

“They’re going to have to come up with out-of-the-box ways to monetize,” he says. “Whether it be through product placement, they’re going to have to get into the DVD market, they’re going to have to get into iTunes.”

And Giddens says they’re going to have to get actor Susan Lucci to continue in her role of Erica Cane. Since leaving "All My Children", she’s gotten steady work elsewhere on TV and it remains to be seen whether she can be lured onto the small-screen of the web.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.
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