What Radio Can Learn From Online Soap Operas

Posted on July 26, 2011

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Maybe I’m making a mass generalization, but when I think of high-tech people who are wired into new forms of content distribution, I don’t immediately think soap opera fans.

Which makes a new venture from Jeff Kwatinetz somewhat puzzling.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with Kwatinetz, in 1997 he founded The Firm, an artist management company that worked with a few acts you might be familiar with such as the Backstreet Boys, Snoop Dogg, Enrique Iglesias, KoRn, Limp Bizkit, Ice Cube, Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Clarkson and many others.

Now he has started a production company called Prospect Park which recently inked a deal to continue production of two soap operas that were cancelled by ABC, “One Life to Live” and “All My Children,” and distribute them online.

In a statement with Prospect Park co-founder Rich Frank, Kwatinetz said, “We believe that by continuing to produce the shows in their current hour format and with the same quality, viewers will follow the show to our new, online network.”

This man made a fortune in the music business but has moved on to soap operas.

Radio stations get cancelled (have their format changed) all the time and it’s common for those brands to “live on,” as a Web-only stream.

Unfortunately, the difference between Kwatinetz’ plan and the way radio stations move online comes down to four very important words, “with the same quality.”

For some reason when radio stations move online everything that made the station what it was, talent, music, production, contests, community involvement and even commercials pretty much disappear.

The reason, of course, is cost. Those elements cost money to produce.

Of course, television shows are even more expensive and complicated to produce, something Prospect Park is discovering. 

A New York Times article reports changes in budgeting will require negotiations with the unions that represent the production staffs on the shows.

But the don’t seem fazed.

A company spokesperson says they are working out the necessary terms with the appropriate unions, which will be followed by firming up deals with talent. 

Makes me wonder.

If two TV shows can continue online with full production value you would surely think it would be possible to maintain a popular radio brand.

But maybe that’s just another mass generalization.

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