'Soap Star' Spreads Out


SoapNet has found ways to spread a little more glitter and extend the reach of one of its key series.

The June 23 second-season premiere of I Wanna Be A Soap Star — where would-be TV actors vie for a 13-week role on ABC soap All My Children — will receive an encore run on ABC Family and various bumps on ABC, SoapNet president Deborah Blackwell said.

And 43.5 million-subscriber SoapNet will again tap Time Warner Inc.'s America Online service to air each of nine episodes (and related content) two days after their 11 p.m. premieres on SoapNet.

Streaming episodes of I Wanna Be A Soap Star continues a trend among cable programmers looking to build awareness, buzz and viewership amid the competitive and cluttered media landscape.

Fellow The Walt Disney Co. service ABC Family will air the first installment of the new season June 25, two days after the SoapNet debut. ABC Daytime will air 30-second vignettes recapping prior episodes during All My Children. And ABC will air a one-hour daytime show on Aug. 18, leading into the Soap Star finale later that evening on SoapNet.

Those tie-ins are “key to what's going on with our group, which is looking at the bigger idea of broadcast and cable,” Blackwell said.

Outside the family, SoapNet will again seek a repurposing boost from AOL. Via AOL's TV Web site (www.aol.com/television), viewers can catch each Soap Star episode, starting June 25 and every Saturday through Aug. 20

AOL also will offer one-minute weekly show recaps and a 40-minute series recap.

AOL Television vice president and general manager Patricia Karpas said the show generated more than 160,000 streams during a six-episode first-season run last fall. Blackwell said 53% of those AOL viewers said they were very likely to watch upcoming episodes via the Internet and 61% said they would tell a friend to watch.

Karpas said AOL hopes to at least double the number of streams this time around, especially as the show is now available to all Internet users via AOL.com, and not just to the 23 million AOL subscribers.

The show averaged a 0.25 household rating for its six-week run, attracting a total of 1.09 million women 18 to 49 — 20% of whom were unique viewers to the network, according to SoapNet officials.

Bravo simulcast the West Coast feed of an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Girl on AOL last January, and Showtime aired the March 7 premiere of Fat Actress on Yahoo! Inc. (www.yahoo.com).