On the internet, death is just a word, it is not a status. Many a website has been left dormant, RSS feeds left without update and Facebook profiles even eerily left in suspension but for a wall full of sympathy messages.
Now in the US even ‘worn-out’ TV programmes culled from the schedules can’t die - they just move online. In the age of the internet, death is not a barrier, just a different avenue.
Last week ABC and producers Prospect Park surprised all but a few in the know, by announcing via a joint press release that two long-running ABC soap operas — One Life to Live and All My Children were to live on beyond their TV deaths. Back in April ABC had announced the axe for the soaps. Declining ratings and a drive for more discussion shows meant that September was set to see the final episode of All My Children and that One Life to Live would not run beyong January next year. Yet, the latest twist – worthy of any soap - means they will survive, but in a virtual world - ironic given the very basis of soap operas are the creation of virtual worlds.
The plan appears to keep running the same way too, just not directly on a TV channel. The press release explained that the shows will be distributed beyond their planned finale dates “via online formats and additional emerging platforms including Internet enabled television sets.” With the additional claim that the future episodes beyond the ‘grave’ will be produced “with the same quality,” and the same length, fans of the soaps are obviously very happy.
The are not the first shows to make the move either. Glenn Beck, a former Fox News presenter recently announced he is to re-launch his cancelled show online in September as a fee-paying online TV show.
Will the UK follow suit? Don’t rule it out. With demand for online video and TV increasing, the natural option would be to revive older formats, either as re-runs or as re-makes. The problem is, as we have seen with much of the ‘fresh’ content produced by smaller satellite and cable channels in this country, production budgets and therefore values just can’t be as high as we are used to with terrestrial TV. Online TV however in the short-term may hold the key to future gameshows, trialling of formats and re-working of old ideas.
Are you watching more of your TV online?