One Life to Live and All My Children, two long-running soap operas created by Agnes Nixon in 1968 and 1970, respectively, were both cancelled in 2011. But in a shocking twist even by soap opera standards, they came back from the dead after being picked up by Online Network earlier this year. Both shows now air as streaming-only programs on Hulu and iTunes, the biggest leap for the genre since Guiding Light moved from radio to television in 1952. And those streaming versions have proved successful enough to catch the eye of Oprah, who will be picking up both shows for her cable channel OWN for a limited 10-week run in July. Presumably, the series will continue beyond that if the ratings are good.
The shows follow in the unlikely footsteps of Futurama, whose post-cancellation success in direct-to-DVD movies spurred the series' return to TV. While both soap operas have reduced production budgets and retooled casts (several of the One Life To Live actors are reprising their characters on General Hospital), their online resurrection confirms once again that cancelled shows with dedicated fanbases still have hope of returning to the airwaves.
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