Soap Fans Protest Outside ABC's Upfront Presentation
NEW YORK -- By the time upfront week is over, ABC will likely have the dubious distinction of being the only network to draw protesters.
About 30 sign-waving soap opera fans stood behind metal police barricades on Broadway as buyers filed into Avery Fisher Hall for ABC's upfront pitch, which featured appearances by Tim Allen and Jimmy Kimmel, performing his usual bite-the-hand that feeds shtick.
The demonstration was organized by SoapFansUnited.com. In a leaflet, the organization urged advertisers to "consider carefully whether ABC/Disney's strategy will increase your company's revenue or create consumer loyalty toward your products. Your consumers see ABC/Disney's move to new daytime programming for what it is -- glorified infomercials appropriate for late-night basic cable channels, not for a major broadcast network."
Last month, ABC announced that it will cancel All My Children and One Life to Live, replacing them with The Chew, a cooking show with Mario Batali, and The Revolution, a lifestyle show featuring Tim Gunn, among others.
The soap genre has been withering for years. And as networks have seen ratings for once venerable soaps decline -- All My Children attracts fewer than 3 million viewers -- the hammer has come down. CBS axed As the World Turns last year and Guiding Light in 2009.
Two NYPD officers were on duty to supervise the protest. Participants carried signs reading: "Disney/ABC Unfair to Workers" and "Save Your $$$ Say No to ABC."
An organizer with a bullhorn led the faithful in chants: "We want soaps. We want soaps. No more reality. No more talk" and "Don't flush our soaps away."