Monday, August 25, 2008

ABC invites its soaps to the dance

The soap internets are all aflutter today over ABC's newest fall promo, set to the jazzy "Dancing in September" and featuring stars of ABC daytime right alongside those of ABC prime time. One minute you're lookin' at Derek and Meredith, or Samantha Who, or Sawyer, and the next it's Gigi and Rex! Here's the promo:

The excitement over the inclusion of ABC Daytime in the promo is understandable. Daytime programming has long been isolated from the prime time business of the broadcast nets. And no one at the nets seems too keen on the soaps these days. But the ABC soaps are in an enviable position in an era of integration and conglomeration. Because ABC Disney owns its shows (the only net to do so) the company has a different kind of investment in its soaps than do CBS and NBC. ABC Daytime prez Brian Frons has repeatedly spoken about his conception of the areas he oversees -- daytime, Soapnet, syndication -- as the different nodes in a cross-platform brand. Soap fans have some justifiable problems with this logic, mainly because it denies the genre-specificity of soaps. But it may be the justification that is helping to keep ABC's soaps on the air and even putting them in promos that don't differentiate between daytime and prime time. If ABC's soaps are just nodes in the cross-platform brand that is ABC Disney they can work interchangeably with other elements of the brand.

Plus, the promo makes crystal clear that ABC wants women viewers. The emphasis on female-led shows, on romantic elements of action shows like Lost, and the inclusion of the soaps suggests that they are pitching the fall line-up squarely at the femmes. At least they acknowledge that some of those women might actually like the net's daytime soaps, too.

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