The new virtual home of All My Children and One Life To Live has a name and a launch target. Prospect Park partners Rich Frank and Jeff Kwatinetz want to go live with THE Online Network (TOLN) in January 2012, with Erika Slezak but, so far, without Erica Kane. (We’ll give them the fancy spelling just this once so you can get a sense of the branding.)
In addition to the two soaps, which have been licensed form Disney/ABC (NYSE: DIS), the veteran Hollywood execs plan to have first-run entertainment and lifestyle shows at launch and eventually a full slate including reality and scripted comedy/drama programming.
Prospect Park already has a track record with new shows: quirky Royal Pains is a hit on USA while Wilfred broke through on FX.
They also plan to treat it like a TV network, promising “the full impact of traditional TV marketing and promotion” along with online promotion and social media, even though it’s a broadband-online play. The theory is that broadband access is in enough households and connected TVs and mobile devices are used enough to make a network for 30-and 60-minute shows viable.
Can they pull it off? Frank was the head of Disney Studios and Kwatinetz co-founded and headed entertainment management agency The Firm so neither is unschooled when it comes to the cost of doing business in Hollywood. Still, look at the struggles of massively financed OWN (NSDQ: DISCA) with Oprah Winfrey on board and Discovery Comkmunications as a JV partner or at the competition en route from YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG) with Google’s deep pockets and in-progress plans for schedule-based channels. The odds against success are about the same as betting that a soap diva won’t get married, fall into a coma or have a twin.
As for Lucci, the nice thing about soaps is they can write around absent characters indefinitely if they want to leave the door open. Erica Kane has been MIA before. Her OLTL counterpart Erika Slezak, aka Victoria Lord, is already promoting Llanview’s new locale on her personal site.