Disney to shutter SOAPnet


DisneyDisney will end programming SOAPnet on 12/31, replacing it with Disney Junior. SoapNet launched 14 years ago to add eyeballs to its daytime dramas like All My Children and General Hospital.

The move isn’t a surprise, as Disney announced the move three years ago. Disney Jr. launched in early 2012. Meanwhile, SOPANet was kept running to keep their soap fans happy and to keep the eyeballs from moving to other competitors—online or on TV.

The move is based on ratings as well. Disney CEO Bob Iger, in a recent earnings call, said Disney Junior has been No. 1 for preschoolers since Nielsen began reporting its ratings in April. After SOAPnet rolls to Disney Jr, it will add up to 66 million homes—it’s current carriage number. Some MSOs currently carry both nets.

“SOAPnet had a great run,” Ben Pyne, president of global distribution for Disney Media Networks told The LA Times. “It served an audience of super-soap fans. And when given the opportunity, all of our affiliates kept the channel up and running.”

SOAPnet also aired CBS’s The Young and the Restless,” “Ryan’s Hope,” “Falcon Crest” and “Knots Landing.”

The LA Times noted that SOPANet “became a big moneymaker, allowing Disney to boost profits through additional runs of soap episodes, which brought in new viewers and advertisers, and programming fees from cable operators. Programming costs were modest. In 2010, its peak year, SOAPnet threw off $111 million in cash flow, according to consulting firm SNL Kagan.”

But DVR penetration changed the landscape. Instead of seeing their favorite soaps repeated later in the day, viewers just started DVR’ing them. So the network’s audience dwindled. Now only four soaps remain on the broadcast networks: General Hospital,” “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” on CBS and “Days of Our Lives” on NBC.

The company stopped charging distributors a fee for SOAPnet months ago, as prime programming on the channel dwindled, noted the LA Times story.