Columbia TriStar plans soap channel
Posted Friday, May 07, 1999 - 11:30:25 AM
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The Columbia TriStar Television Group has announced plans for a twenty four-hour all soap opera cable channel. The announcement comes less than a month after Disney made a similar announcement.

Columbia TriStar owns parts of Days of our Lives and The Young and the Restless. Plans for the soap channel, tentatively dubbed "Soap City," include running same-day repeats of DAYS and Y&R installments -- possibly in a primetime hour so that fans who are not home during the day can still see their favorite shows.

Initially there were reports that the channel would also air Procter & Gamble soaps, but now that claim is unclear. P&G runs Guiding Light, As The World Turns, and soon-to-end Another World. These soaps are distributed internationally by Columbia TriStar.

In April, the Walt Disney Co. announced that it would launch a twenty-four hour soap opera channel with a focus on the ABC soaps All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital, and Port Charles. Disney is the parent company of the ABC television network. Like Soap City, plans to rebroadcast the day's episodes of the soaps are an integral part of the line-up.

There had been fears that the daytime runs of the various soaps would drop if viewers could watch them at a later hour. ABC conducted a test of its planned soaps channel in Chicago and Houston last year and found that the ratings for its soaps actually rose during the trial period. The network claimed that new viewers were snared by showing the soaps at night---and that some of those viewers tuned in during the regular daytime hours to keep up with the action.

Is there room for two soap opera channels? That remains to be seen. However, it's possible that soap fans can now watch even more soaps. They can watch, for example, Days of our Lives during the day and watch another soap like All My Children at night.

Disney's soap channel is expected to launch in early 2000. Columbia also plans a 2000 launch, but probably later in the year.

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