ABC Daytime President on Soaps: ‘The Strongest Will Survive’

Says “General Hospital” is safe if it’s produced “in a smart way”

ABC's president of daytime says the cancellation of "One Life to Live" and "All My Children" doesn't foreshadow the death of all soaps.

"It's like any other genre on TV, the strongest will survive," Brian Frons told TheWrap. "Right now we're down to the last few that are still strong and viable and economically sound."

Also read: ABC Axes "One Life to Live," "All My Children"

ABC will replace the soaps, both more than four decades old, with the new lifestyle shows "The Chew" and "The Revolution." The cancellations leave just four soaps on the air, including ABC's "General Hospital."

We talked to Frons about his expectations for the new shows, why he won't bring either soap back, and what their creator, Agnes Nixon, expected from them at the beginning.

Is there still a place for soaps?
I think the soap operas that are strong, "The Young and the Restless" on CBS and "General Hospital" on ABC, still have a good place in the hearts. 

Can you make any commitment to keep "General Hospital" on the air?
As long as we have good ratings it will stay in the lineup.

What qualifies as good? Is there a baseline?
No, it doesn't work like that. It's an algebraic equation of cost ad revenue and the revenue of course is represented by ratings. So as long as they can continue to produce the show in a smart way and bring in viewers it'll be here on ABC.

How much do "The Chew" and "The Revolution" cost compared to the soaps?
They're about 30 to 40 percent less than the soaps. … I don't want to get into the dollars and cents of it but I think that's a fair way to say it. Certainly to frame it up for any general readers to understand that these are a significantly cheaper way to schedule the day part.

And you anticipate the same ratings or better?
Initially we actually expect a little lower and then we hope for growth as time goes on. You take a look at the history of "The View," you know the ratings were low at the beginning and it took a while for them to be what they are today.

Some fans will almost definitely lobby to get these shows back on the air. Is there any way that will happen?
No. We really spent a lot of time learning from our success with "The View," talking to viewers about what they're looking for and we have tremendous respect for the passion of our serial fans. But we're at a point with these two shows, as much as they've done for the network, and as much as we appreciate them — their time here has come to an end. And we're going to spend our efforts trying to make a success out of the two new shows, "The Chew" and "The Revolution," which are in genres that, as we talk to viewers, they want more of. They're looking for more information and more talk in their daytime viewing.

Do you think the age that a show can last for 40 years or so is over?
Hm. Well, I'll answer that in a non-way. I once said to Agnes Nixon, Agnes, did you ever think these shows would have been around for 40 years? And she said 'Honey, I was hoping for six months.' So I don't think anybody can ever predict that something can be around that long. I certainly hope that these shows can be around for a quarter that long. I'd be thrilled.