A year ago, Frons said, when ABC executives were projecting the long-term finances of its shows they saw the situation becoming increasingly dicey. "We saw that there were a couple of shows that were not going to be profitable and we said, 'We've got a huge problem,' " he said. At that point, the network ordered pilots for possible replacement shows.
Viewers, Frons said, are more interested in upbeat lifestyle and informational shows. For example, ABC's morning talk show "The View" this season has pulled in some of its best ratings — an average of 3.7 million viewers an episode — second only to the 2008 season that was fueled by interest in the presidential election.
"Advertisers like soap operas — they have a very loyal audience," said Starcom's Kulesza. "But there are more ways for advertisers to get involved with a show like "The Chew" than "All My Children." ABC is able to monetize those advertiser integrations; that way they can get more revenue than just from the 30-second commercial spots in the show."