SOAPnet will go dark to make way for Disney Junior

general-hospitalImage Credit: Patrick Wymore/ABCReason to panic, daytime drama fans? Disney ABC/Television Group announced today that it will pop the bubble on SOAPnet in January 2012 to make way for Disney Junior, a new 24-hour cable/satellite channel devoted to preschool children. In making the announcement, Disney Media Networks Co-Chair Anne Sweeney said the decision to shutter the cable channel was “not arrived at lightly,” but that new viewing patterns have all but deemed the network obsolete. 

“SOAPnet was created in 2000 to give daytime viewers the ability to watch time-shifted soaps, before multiplatform viewing and DVRs were part of our vocabulary,” Sweeney said in a statement. “But today, as technology and our businesses evolve, it makes more sense to align this distribution with a preschool channel that builds on the core strengths of our company.”

Ironically, SOAPnet – which is available in 75 million homes – has only positive news to report when it comes to viewership levels these days. For the fifteenth consecutive month, SOAPnet says its the No. 1 basic cable net in loyalty among women 18-49, and season-to-date, is up 4 percent from a year ago in the key demo. It has become a haven for soap fans who didn’t catch original episodes of CBS’ The Young and the Restless, NBC’s Days of Our Lives, and ABC’s All My Children, General Hospital and One Life to Live during the day. It also airs repeats of old sudsers like Beverly Hills, 9010 and The O.C., as well.

“It is sad news because it is a channel that’s been dedicated to soap fans,” Brian Frons, President of Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group, told EW. “It’s been a terrific asset for us. But it’s not a dink on soap operas. It’s about Disney wanting to be have preschool network, they looked for the space, and realized the distribution already existed. They can grow Disney Junior because they have a super product, and they can take it internationally.”

The beauty of SOAPnet was that it helped to keep the ailing genre viable; production companies that remain in the soap business were able to generate additional revenue by selling their reruns to SOAPnet. That’s why it seems feasible that another female-friendly cable net might consider picking up the baton once SOAPnet dies in 2012. But the death of SOAPnet could also have a positive effect on daytime programming; fans may return to the broadcast nets to watch their stories rather than wait to catch them on cable or online.

Frons said ABC will eventually launch a marketing campaign to remind fans that all of its sudsers can be found on ABC.com, Hulu, and video on demand.  Episodes of Restless and Days can also be found online. For now, it’s unclear how the net’s closure will affect Being Erica, a cult fave from Canada that airs on SOAPnet. Season three of the show is currently in production and will air on the cable net, a spokeswoman confirms.

As for the decision to launch Disney Junior, the company has 22 channels around the world devoted to preschool programming (dubbed Playhouse Disney) but none in the U.S. Right now, the Disney Channel only offers a daily programming block for the younger set. Explains Carolina Lightcap, president, Disney Channels Worldwide, in a statement: “Around the world, our Disney-branded channels are burgeoning, distinguished by the special place Disney has in the hearts of kids — who delight in our characters and stories — and parents who trust our commitment to entertaining and helping their preschoolers, kids and tweens grow through engaging, relevant programming. By adding a dedicated U.S. channel for preschoolers to our global portfolio, we look forward to enhancing that sense of magical storytelling and parental trust, and expanding our offerings, locally and globally, from morning to night, to deliver more Disney-quality content that will resonate with generations to come.”


Comments (305 total) Add your comment
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  • Casey

    Yet another sign that soaps are dying.

    • Ashley N

      Not really you can watch them on other channel as abc,cbs,nbc it depend on who you watch

    • judy

      why do we need another disney channel we have enough save soapnet

      • Josie Schwab

        IKR

    • LJ

      What are you people crazy! It’s not just the soaps but all the other shows as well. Leave well enough alone!! We need that channel to catch up on all the episodes we missed over time!! Please folks think about re-thinking this whole idea!!

  • Rachel

    But what about Being Erica?!?!? Hopefully Lifetime will pick it up.

    Soapnet is the reason I watch GH. I grew up on days and started watching abc soaps at night when I was in grad school.

    • Kyle

      Being Erica is a Canadian show. You can watch it online. The cancellation of SOAPnet has no impact on the show since SOAPnet just bought the reruns.

    • Brenda Barrett

      Umm, Kyle — actually this does affect Being Erica. Erica’s third season was green-lighted, in part, because SoapNet wanted to buy another season, so CBC knew the show would be profitable. The third season will air in Canada this fall and on SoapNet next spring. This definitely puts a potential fourth season of Erica up in the air.

    • Growler

      Correct Brenda. The SoapNet honchos even said as much when announcing the renewal. Well here’s hoping “Erica” will run in the U.S. this fall, concurrent with its run on CBC. Season 2 was done airing in Canada by December of last year. So if they schedule it on SoapNet this fall we could see all of Season 3 before they pull the plug. But you’d think this would pretty much cast the death-knell for any chance at Season 4. A shame.

      • Growler

        oh wait I got my math wrong! Erica can still air here early next year, but the outlook for a Season 4 still appears gloomy.

  • fireflystare221

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO how can I watch 90210, One Tree Hill, and The OC endlessly. What the heck do preschoolers need a 24 hour channel for? They are in pre-school?! This is a horrible decision.

    • mary q contrary

      That’s what I’m wondering….. I mean, I can understand wanting some preschool programming in the evening. I homeschool my kids, and when curriculum is over, they take over the tube for a few hours. My little guy is just waking up from his nap, and never even has a chance. But to be airing preschool shows all night long? What the heck is the point!? I say they make it a duel mommy/kid channel, with preschool shows on until 8 or 9 (for the parents who need it as a baby sitter), and then air the soaps after that. I mean, they only air like 3 or 4 of them anyway, right?

      • marymary

        As a mom of 4, I am actually excited about the prospect of a Playhouse Disney channel. I hope they show of the old preschool shows that my older son loved when he was little. As for soapnet, I will miss it because I did watch OC or 90210 reruns on their from time to time. Hope another network picks up those shows and maybe some felicity reruns to round it out?

      • Not a Happy camper

        A 24 hour show devoted to preschoolers, no a great move. Why would a preschooler be up that late? I have 3 and they are in bed by 10 at the latest. There are other kids channels that are available, Nick Jr is one I can think of.

    • Jess

      I couldn’t agree more! I watch SOAPnet more than any other channel. I love OTH, 90210 and The OC. What a horrible decision. The kiddos have more than enough channels of their own, why do they have to take away one of the adults????

      • Rose

        I agree!! Kids already have a disney channel, & Nickelodeon, Nick jr., and a lot of cartoon channels!! You have a whole lot of people who love watching old shows like Beverly Hills 90210!!! What will they do if you do away with Soapnet. You will lose a lot of viewers!!! Are you ready for that???

      • D Cox

        I AGREE, CAUGHT UP ON ALL MY SOAPS AT NIGHT. NOT RIGHT TO TAKE THESE OFF WE GREW UP WITH THEM AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT THEY DO GIVE A LOT OF INFO ON A LOT OF SUBJECTS IN THIS WORLD.

    • Jaded

      There are already several channels that offer 24 hr a day preschool programming. Sprout and Nick Jr (formerly Noggin) are 2 of them. I will miss 90210 and the OC!

      • Jessica

        Both those options suck, to be blunt. My 4 year-old daughter thinks Sprout shows (including Sesame Street, sadly) are babyishm and I think they’re sickeningly sweet. Nick Jr. shows are simplistic and just God awful creepy. I watched 10 minutes of Dora and vowed never again. I’ve sampled a couple other Nick shows, and find them similarly lacking. I didn’t expect to find the Playhouse Disney shows any better, but Handy Manny encouraged my daughter to try and fix things and build things. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse asks questions that require logic and problem solving skills. Little Einsteins present music and the arts in a way that is accessible to young children. We saw a Van Gogh exhibit on tour and she pointed at Starry Night and recognized it when she was 3. We spent a lot of time admiring it as a result. I would love to have those shows available after school, and even at 3 a.m. when we finally arrive at my parents’ house for a visit and our daughter demands to eat a snack before going back to sleep and watching a show seems to be the only way to keep her from running around and waking everyone up, or at least that’s as creative as we’re going to be at that time after a long trip.

      • lee bailor

        love soapnet missed later episodes 90210 after high school when army sent me to isolated area without that show . as mom of bipolar adhd autistic kid who will b pre k developmentally forever really torn . especially as charter (cable) wont provide nickjr except as a block of programming on nick juring th day. like a lot of other bipolar people we up nites my 8 yr old & i. only just found the channel 4 weeks ago. will miss 1 tree hill oc 90210. etc. what are other sources of this stuff ? keep ansers simple only got 8 grade education/ged.

    • Dee

      You are absolutely right!….I don’t get it….

    • tasha

      I love Being erica and though it is a shame about the soap channel, I am glad that disney is making a show just for pre-schooler’s. My boy is going on 3 and is not old enough for pre-school, so far there is not a channel that has the cartoons he likes on it all day long.

    • Barbara Birmingham

      THis is the BIGGEST MISTAKE ABC could ever make!!! there nightime shows suck. They should ask us!!! I think they must have new young Exec’s in charge and the fall out will be huge!!!!!!!!!!!! This is WRONG!!!

  • Mary

    This decision is very disappointing. I like to catch my soap (GH) late a night when I get in from work. Why to pre-school aged kids need a channel all of their own? Can they even turn the TV on yet? And a 24 hour channel…how many pre-school kids are up past 7pm? I hope some other channel will pick up the soaps and let Disney ABC/Television Group watch their new channel drop even more in ratings.

    • Nikki L

      That was my immediate response: do they really need a 24 hour channel for preschool programming? Didn’t they have a set up on some channel before where it would switch depending on time of day? I had to stop watching GH a few months ago because I couldn’t take all the mob stuff anymore, and I dropped Days along with it, but it was nice to know that a soap-focused channel was there when I wanted it.

      • JRE

        They apparently feel the need to compete with Nick Jr and Sprout which have preschool programming for 24 hours.

    • Susi

      I agree with you 100% why do these children need a 24 hr channel, what about the working people that have to work during the day and depend on soapnet to stay in tune with sops

      • jodi

        I agree I work all day so my only chance to catch up is at night. i dont understand why 3-4 yrs olds would need to watch tv late at night. abc is making a huge mistake taking this channel off network. i hope some other channel takes over soapnet.

    • say it an,t so

      anyone that lets kids up that late is not a good parent kids need sleepwhat about the night time soaps!! oops they call them drams****

      • lee bailor

        some kid meds for all their problem combine to keep them up @ nite…is your kid -follow me closely- adhd bipolar autistic and has seizures ? plus i dont got time warner or comcast i got charter. mind you i am ticked i only found the channel and its going bye bye. i just see it from both points of view. some kids are up nites and they dont need to see inapppropriate stuff. just hope thay leave online stuff up. be nice to find soapnet streaming this at all hours on demand.

  • Jen

    @Rachel: I as thinking the same thing about Being Erica. I love that show.

    • Kyle

      Watch it online.

      • Trai

        That’s a problem when Canadian copyright restrictions prevent those of us in the US from viewing Canadian videos. I don’t want to have to watch a show I love illegally; that doesn’t show my support at all.

      • Brenda Barrett

        Kyle — see above. You don’t know as much as you think you do…

  • Tom Hunter

    Load of CRAP! First I lose LAW & ORDER now they take away SOAPNET?!? And for what? More Disney B.S.??

    I work nights, sleep days and watch DOOL and GH on this channel. Guess I will be one less viewer that either show can count on.

  • Colleen

    A very disappointing decision. I’ve watched Soapnet every week night from 5pm to 8pm – for many years now. I hope someone else resurrects the Soap genre channel. Don’t tell me that after having watched the AMC soaps since 1970, that I may be done watching them? Money…it’s always the bottom line. Thanks Disney.

  • c

    WHAT ABOUT BEING ERICA?!?!?!?!

    • c

      come on Lifetime Channel please air this Canadian gem

    • Jess

      This SUCKS! I think the kids have to many channels. My son is 8 months and I need a break at night.

  • shana

    Please somebody tell me that they will sell OC, 90210, OTH, and others to some other channel. Maybe ABC Family will replay.

    • Zoe

      From your lips to God’s ears. I am a total 90210 addict and have been a daily viewer of Soapnet for the past five years for this reason. Seriously…have you seen how many kiddie channels are already on the average cable lineup? At least Soapnet was unique.

    • Dolores

      This is about the new Disney channel, most parents that work are at work, and the tot’s are off to Day care? Where’s the demand? Most tot’s are in bed earlier then the older children, because they need the sleep more then they need to watch TV.

  • Steve

    They’re a little late if they are trying to compete with Nick Jr. Besides, there’s already enough Disney channels as it is. We don’t need more.

    • jodipo

      this

    • Sina

      There is no way Preschool Disney can beat Yo Gabba Gabba. They might as well forget about it. Disney still doesn’t have a show as good as ICarly.

  • Catb

    nooo! where else where i get my seth cohen fix?!

  • Trai

    Being Erica is my new favorite show and I’m very upset by this news. I agree with the others; I really hope it can be aired on Lifetime or another channel. I will also miss the repeats of One Tree Hill and Gilmore Girls.

    • Courtney

      ABC Family has repeats of Gilmore Girls on twice a day. It would be wonderful if they picked up One Tree Hill

    • Brenda Barrett

      No need to panic yet. The third season will air on Soapnet as planned in Jan. 2011. It’s a potential fourth season that is in jeopardy.

    • tasha

      Gilmore girls comes on ABC family weekdays 4:00central time. I just finished to series by setting the dvr to record daily.

  • Kurt

    SoapNet blew it when they started the endless 90210, O.C., and One Tree Hill repeats. It used to be more adventurous in their “non-daytime soap” programming, but they blew it. And it’s obviously that they’re now trying to indoctrinate a new generation of consumers, which is really kinda gross.

    • Mrs. Teasley

      Wrong, Kurt. 90210 is a TV institution.

      • Zoe

        I could be wrong, but I remember hearing that 90210 gets the highest ratings of any Soapnet rerun. That is why it is shown endlessly. Yes, they used to be more diverse with Dynasty, Dallas, et. al., but obviously more people watched when 90210 and the newer shows were on.

  • Karrah

    That blows. I always watch The OC, One Tree Hill and 90210 on the days that I’m home. I’m pissed.

  • Jan

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Karen van horn

      Shame on you taking soap net off of our channel 55. Now my daughter and friends after watching their for 25 years can no longer see their soap because they work at the reg show time. Isn’t it a pity to put shows on cable that you need to rent a box to be able to see.

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