It’s been ten years since SOAPnet signed off as the first and only cable network devoted to airing episodes of current and classic soap operas 24 hours a day. So, how have viewing habits changed since the network signed off? Let’s break it down!
Since officially dissolving as of 12:00 a.m. ET on January 1, 2014, SOAPnet has been replaced by a multiplatform world where watching shows on the go has become the new standard via streaming capabilities.
For instance, instead of watching episodes of “General Hospital” on ABC or catching up at night on SOAPnet back in the day, viewers can now watch the show Live and On Demand on Hulu, the ABC App and ABC.com. In fact, if you missed an episode, you no longer have to wait for a weekend marathon to catch up. Now, you can watch up to two weeks On Demand at your leisure with what we now call binging, or if you utilize the DVR feature courtesy of a Hulu + Live TV subscription, you can hold as many episodes as you want until you delete them.
As for “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “The Young and the Restless,” Paramount+ is their official streaming home, in addition to watching daily on CBS. Fans can watch Live and On Demand via a Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscription or just On Demand with the Paramount+ Essential plan. Before Paramount+, both shows and a plethora of other CBS programming were available to stream on CBS All Access. The rebrand to Paramount+ in 2021 resulted from Viacom and CBS merging to become ViacomCBS, which itself has since been rebranded to Paramount Global.
Starting in September 2022, “Days of our Lives” left NBC after nearly 57 years on broadcast television, becoming a Peacock exclusive series. Peacock renewed the series for two more seasons in March, which will cover the show through its show’s 60th anniversary. The move to Peacock marked the first time that a daytime drama series had become exclusive to a streaming service, not including the short-lived reboots of “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” which at launch were available on Hulu and the discontinued Hulu Plus premium option, along with the ability to purchase episodes on the since discontinued iTunes store. Prior to being exclusive to Peacock, same day episodes were available to stream for free on Peacock hours after the show’s NBC broadcast starting in April 2020.
Before streaming, and several months prior to SOAPnet’s final broadcast, same day episodes of “The Young and the Restless” were moved to then CBS-owned TVGN starting in July 2013. “The Bold and the Beautiful” joined its sister soap on the channel in December 2013, and so did “Days of our Lives” in August 2015 when TVGN was rebranded to Pop TV.
In the years since acquiring all three soaps, “Days of our Lives” was dropped from the channel in 2016, with “The Bold and the Beautiful” following suit in 2017. “The Young and the Restless” remained on the channel until 2019. Since 2020, the channel itself has become virtually obsolete, airing no original content. This is a far cry from when it gained mainstream attention with the well-regarded and critically acclaimed comedy series “Schitt’s Creek,” which ended its run in 2020 and later swept all seven major categories in which it was nominated during “The 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards,” including Outstanding Comedy Series.
The Pop TV website is rarely updated and mainly highlights “NCIS: New Orleans” and “Law & Order” reruns as part of its schedule. In fact, the page links to a TV schedule featuring a list of crime reruns and links to curated Paramount+ programming. Beyond that, the channel also promotes its never-updated social media platforms, all of which last saw any attention from a Paramount intern in April. Ironically, considering the lack of updates, the website notes that the network is “TV the way it should be: effortlessly entertaining and home to some of the most buzzed-about shows in television, including ‘Schitt’s Creek’ and ‘One Day at a Time.’”
Outside of the failed SOAPnet-like rebroadcast attempt by Pop TV and a plethora of streaming options currently available, another more modern way of watching the soaps is through FAST (Free Ad Supported Television) services, such as Pluto TV from Paramount Global or Unlocked Channels from ABC.
In October 2021, Pluto TV launched the Soaps Channel dedicated to rebroadcasts of “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.” While initially saying there were plans to provide fans with additional episodes from other daytime and primetime soaps, the channel continues to only air episodes from the two CBS stalwarts. Pluto TV is available as an app on Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Playstation, Tivo, Xfinity, Roku, and other Smart TV-enabled devices, including those designed by Samsung and Vizio. You can also stream programming via its website, plutotv.com, without registering or signing up. By doing so, however, you can customize your viewing experience.
ABC launched a beta version of the all-new “General Hospital Spotlight” FAST Channel in May. The channel allows fans to watch episodes of the daytime drama series from 2018 and later for free at any time, 24/7, with no login required. The channel was officially launched in late June and is available exclusively on ABC.com or via the ABC App.
SOAPnet launched on January 20, 2000, and after nearly 14 years of broadcasting, the channel ended its run at the stroke of midnight, airing the final 2013 episode of ABC’s “General Hospital” (originally aired on Monday, December 30) from 11:00-11:59 p.m. ET on December 31, 2013. Throughout the episode, viewers were treated to endless commercials promoting ABC and ABC Family programming, including “General Hospital,” and the since-canceled shows “Revenge,” “The Chew,” “The Fosters,” “Switched at Birth,” “Pretty Little Liars” and “Ravenswood.” ABC Family was later rebranded to Freeform in 2016.
As stated by Anne Sweeney, the then co-chair of Disney Media Networks and then president of the Disney/ABC Television Group, “SOAPnet was created in 2000 to give daytime viewers the ability to watch time-shifted soaps, before multiplatform viewing and DVRs were part of our vocabulary. But today, as technology and our businesses evolve, it makes more sense to align this distribution with a preschool channel that builds on the core strengths of our company.” That preschool channel, named Disney Junior, formally replaced SOAPnet on cable and satellite services on January 1, 2014, marking the official end of the channel and “the new way to watch soaps.”
“Disney discontinued their SOAPnet broadcast. The SOAPnet channel is no longer available from any television provider,” read a message immediately after the channel signed off.