Friday, January 15, 2010

My 15 Minutes Start Now

I'm in Entertainment Weekly!

Okay, yes, it's a letter to the editor, but everyone's got to start somewhere, right?

I'll have the scan up later, but in the meantime, here's the letter they printed:

It's unfortunate that soaps are teetering on the on the brink just as they are becoming more poular overseas. Thanks to the internet, fans around the world are enjoying and discussing soap storylines, particularly those featuring gay couples such as Luke and Noah from ATWT and Kyle and Oliver on OLTL. Perhaps the powers that be should focus on finding a way to tap into that audience.

So how, exactly, did I end up in EW with a letter about international fans of gay storylines in US soaps? Uhm, that's a pretty good question.

A couple of weeks ago EW ran an article on soap operas, illustrated by a graphic of a cemetery, showing all the "deceased" soaps – and an open grave for One Life to Live, the soap widely assumed to be next on the chopping block.

I got a little peeved.

Like I said in the letter, there's an untapped viewer pool out there, and I so wish the powers that be would try to find a way to access it.

International fans.

It used to be that people could only watch soaps in their country of origin. German fans watched German soaps, US fans watched US soaps, UK viewers … okay, you get the picture. But now, thanks to the wonders of the internet, fans are being created all over the world.

And one of the biggest fandoms around for soaps is gay storylines. There's Kyle and Oliver Fish (Kish) on One Life to Live. Luke and Noah (Nuke) on As The World Turns. Both of these pairings are popular around the world, with fans connecting through the internet to watch, discuss, and enjoy the storylines. There was even a fan event held in France last year for Nuke fans (the actors even attended!).

Going the other direction, fans in the US watch German, Spanish, Welsh, even Dutch soaps that have been painstakingly clipped, translated, and uploaded onto the internet. In the fandom I've connected to, Alles Was Zaehlt, thousands of fans all over the world watch the uploaded videos on Eskimo Kiss Project, a joint venture of three women who live in Canada, the US and New Zealand. Conversations in the comments fly fast and furious after every episode, with people weighing in from around the globe.

So why don't these soap operas look beyond their borders to figure out how to tap into this enthusiastic fan base? If I lived in Germany, I could buy a subscription to the production company's website and watch the episodes a day early. But that option isn't available outside the country. Why not? (Again, my old nemesis geographical restrictions rears its ugly head.)

There's even a convention being held in New York City at the end of March, Gays of our Lives, which is bringing together actors from three different German soaps, plus several US soap actors.

People are flying into NY from all over the world to meet the actors – and each other. Wouldn't it be nice if the people in charge of the soap operas would think outside the box and find a way to access this fan base? Who knows, maybe it could be enough to save soaps after all.


Anonymous said...

It would totally be nice. Obviously the interest is there. It's hard for me to see beyond my little corner of the web, but I feel like the gay storylines could revitalize soap operas if only the networks could figure out a way to take advantage of the fan base. (Again, it's hard for me to see if the gay couple fan base is as large as I think it is in the grand scheme of things, but hey, Last October, EKP got over a million hits, so clearly there's some interest, right?)

The problem as I see it is two-fold. One) Large companies are so behind the times when it comes to figuring out how to take advantage of the internet for profit. And secondly, international copyright laws are not up to speed as well. (For instance, the reason why you and I can't buy a subscription to AWZ on RTL Now is not because they don't want our money--it's because they legally don't have the rights to broadcast in our country for profit. I think a lot of it has to do with the music they use as well. When France bought the rights to AWZ, for example, the music had to be renegotiated separately, and they decided that instead of doing that, they'd just replace the music with stuff they had rights to, and thus a lot of scenes were ruined, but I digress. Copyright is a tangled weave that I don't quite understand.)

Anyway, I'm totally with you. I just doubt anything is going to change at a real fast pace.

Kate Davies said...

*sigh* Frustrating, innit? I'm a fan of reasonable copyright law, for obvious reasons, but the tangled web of geographical restrictions infuriates me. They don't make any sense anymore in our global society.

And if you take a look at OLTL's ratings, the difference between the week of New Year's (featuring KISH's first love scene) and the week following (when they were barely featured) is telling. Huge drop of numbers.

Clearly, they need to have Kyle and Fish make out every day. For the sake of the show.

And over a million hits in October? Dude, that's fabulous! And I'm sure only 100K or so were me, watching the episodes over...and over...and over...