LOS ANGELES – The residents of Pine Valley and Llanview have joined the digital age, albeit kicking and screaming.
After being canceled by ABC over a year ago, “All My Children’ and “One Life to Live” are back, only this time, they’re on the Web. The Online Network re-launched the two shows Monday on Hulu, Hulu Plus and iTunes.
But the digital platform is not the soaps’ only change. The shows have also been re-invented as four-times-a-week, half-hour episodes, down from the old TV format of one hour, five times a week.
And from the initial numbers for the online relaunch, it looks like so far, so good.
“All My Children” claimed the number one spot on Hulu and made it into the Top 10 of iTunes TV downloads, while “One Life to Live” was also on iTunes’ Top Ten.
Fans were beside themselves.
“The show was better than I thought it could be! Loved the stories, the actors old &new and feel my family is back,” tweeted one fan, another quipped “we fight for what we believe in :) so glad we never lost hope!” said one “AMC” fan.
One even went so far as to prefer the new “AMC” over the old, writing: “Getting canceled by ABC was a blessing for you guys never seen a soap look so stunning.”
The online soaps made such a splash, some other blasts from the past were trying to get in on some of that Internet glow.
The Backstreet Boys congratulated both shows on their return, asking if they could “drop by the set sometime,” and even the metal band Korn (?) had kind words.
“Checked out the new @onelifetolive on @hulu. This sh*t has grown up since I watched w my grandma. Check Snoop on the theme song too!”
Indeed some grandmas out there got hooked on soaps even before television, as the genre was first popularized on radio. Monday’s programs thus marked the genre’s move to a third media platform, and moved them, for the first time, from daytime to whenever a fan wants to watch.
“Fewer people in today’s society have the time to commit to a daily series airing at a specific time,” pop culture expert Scott Huver told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column.
And according to Michael Maloney, contributing editor on Soaps In-Depth Magazine, the genre’s move online may both bring in a whole new audience, and pose some problems for devoted viewers who did not grow up with and have not embraced digital media.
“Certainly the younger generation is watching programs on new platforms. Based on these first episodes it's clear that both shows have done a great job of mixing familiar veterans with fresh-faced newcomers that will appeal to a younger audience --- just as the characters Greg and Jenny and Tad and Liza did on 'AMC' years ago,” he explained. “Based on today's episodes, I expect them to survive. What hurt soaps over the years was poor writing and a lack of emphasis on veteran, fan favorite characters. The online versions of 'AMC' and 'OLTL' don't appear to have any problems in these departments. Both episodes had strong tags today and plenty of veteran players.”
Glenn Selig of Selig Multimedia says the soaps may be what just what it takes to pull some late Web adopters to the Internet.
“It's amazing what people will figure out how to do if they want it badly enough – even if it means learning new technology,” Selig said. “These shows are addictive and have a loyal audience. I believe the dedicated viewers will follow the show to the moon if that's what it takes to tune in.”