SOAPnet, the cable TV channel loved by legions of loyal soap opera fans, is taking its final bow.
A Walt Disney Co. spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday that SOAPnet would indeed fade away on New Year’s Eve, despite protests from hundreds of soap fans who relied on the channel to catch up with such daytime dramas as “General Hospital,” “The Young and the Restless” and “Days of Our Lives.”
Disney last month announced that it would pull the plug on the channel, as part of a shift in corporate priorities.
Once the broadcast leader in daytime dramas, boasting such classics as “All My Children,” “One Life to Live” and “Port Charles,” Disney’s ABC network now produces only one soap, “General Hospital.”
Disney’s SOAPnet channel — which launched in January 2000 — proved to be a friendly oasis for super fans before the widespread adoption of digital video recorders, which allowed consumers to easily record the shows for later viewing.
The channel turned into a big moneymaker by giving Disney a venue for additional runs of soap episodes, bringing in new viewers and advertisers as well as programming fees from cable and satellite TV operators. The channel’s programming costs were modest.
A year ago, Disney attempted to replace SOAPnet with a channel geared for young children called Disney Junior. But cable and satellite TV operators were loath to drop SOAPnet, realizing that it was a favorite among the most dedicated fans. TV providers added the Disney Junior channel to their offerings, and for more than a year, Disney has provided programming for both channels.
However, this fall, Disney informed TV providers that it would stop programming SOAPnet on Dec. 31.
Repeats of “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful,” which air on CBS, already have relocated to the TVGN cable channel, which is co-owned by CBS Corp.
Some viewers have lamented Disney’s decision to focus on building a new children’s network — at the expense of SOAPnet.
“This is why the ... children of today are obese, they spend too much time in front of the TV, computers and not enough time playing,” one SOAPnet fan, Jean Davis, wrote on latimes.com Tuesday. “Disney is not thinking of the people that work all day. ... We rely on the SOAPnet channel to watch what we miss during the day.”