The sands in the hourglass are about to run out for the 24-hour soap channel, SOAPnet. Disney has informed cable operators that it will no longer provide programming for SOAPnet after December 31, 2013.
This is not the first time that SOAPnet has been slated to go off the air. The decision to flip the switch on SOAPnet was first made in May 2010. At the time, Disney explained that the rise of digital video recording devices (DVRs) and on-demand viewing options meant that soap fans no longer had to tune in to the channel to catch same-day repeats of their favorite soaps. In hindsight, the decision appears to have been largely driven by the company's then-unannounced plans to cancel All My Children and One Life to Live.
"SOAPnet was created in 2000 to give daytime viewers the ability to watch time-shifted soaps, before multi-platform viewing and DVRs were part of our vocabulary," Disney Media Networks President Anne 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."
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SOAPnet was to have been replaced by a new a child-friendly network called Disney Junior, in 2012. The company ran into challenges convincing some cable companies to add the ad-free channel to their lineups, and, as a result, SOAPnet has remained on the air in some areas.
SOAPnet debuted on January 24, 2000, and was designed to be for soap fans what ESPN is for sports fans. With the launch of SOAPnet, Disney got the jump on one of its rivals, Columbia TriStar Television Group, which also had plans for a soap opera channel of its own. The TriStar group eventually abandoned their plans for a network of their own and licensed two of their programs, Days of our Lives and The Young and the Restless, to SOAPnet.
The decision to shut down SOAPnet means that fans who have relied on the cable channel for primetime viewings of their favorites will now have to find other options. The good news is that the number of options has grown in recent years.
The Young and the Restless, which had been airing on SOAPnet for nearly a decade, moved to TVGN (The TV Guide Network) earlier this year.
All four remaining soaps are also available for free online viewing on their respective networks' web sites: ABC.com for General Hospital, CBS.com for The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless, and NBC.com for Days of our Lives.
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