One Life to Live (often abbreviated as OLTL) is an American soap opera broadcast on the ABC television network for more than 43 years, from July 15, 1968, to January 13, 2012, and then on the internet as a web series on Hulu and iTunes via The Online Network from April 29 to August 19, 2013. Created by Agnes Nixon, the series was the first daytime drama to primarily feature ethnically and socioeconomically diverse characters and consistently emphasize social issues. One Life to Live was expanded from 30 minutes to 45 minutes on July 26, 1976, and then to an hour on January 16, 1978.
One Life to Live heavily focuses on the members and relationships of the Lord family. Actress Erika Slezak began portraying the series' central protagonist Victoria "Viki" Lord in March 1971 and played the character continuously for the rest of the show's run on ABC Daytime, winning a record six Daytime Emmy Awards for the role. In 2002, the series won an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. One Life to Live was the last American daytime soap opera taped in New York City.
After nearly 43 years on the air, ABC canceled One Life to Live on April 14, 2011. On July 7, 2011, production company Prospect Park announced that it would continue the show as a web series after its run on ABC, but later suspended the project. The show taped its final scenes for ABC on November 18, 2011, and its final episode on the network aired on January 13, 2012 with a cliffhanger.
On January 7, 2013, Prospect Park resumed its plan to continue One Life to Live as a daily 30-minute web series on Hulu and iTunes via The Online Network. The relaunched series premiered on April 29, 2013. The new series was plagued with several behind-the-scenes problems, most notably a litigation between Prospect Park and ABC regarding the misuse of One Life to Live characters on General Hospital. On September 3, 2013, Prospect Park suspended production of the series until the lawsuit with ABC was resolved.
Impressed with the ratings success of NBC's Another World, ABC sought out Another World writer Nixon to create a serial for them. Though Nixon's concept for the new series was "built along the classic soap formula of a rich family and a poor family," she was "tired of the restraints imposed by the WASPy, noncontroversial nature of daytime drama." One Life to Live would emphasize "the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity" of the characters in its fictional setting. Nixon would go on to create All My Children in 1970 and Loving in 1983.
The initial main titles of the series featured the image of a roaring fireplace, a visual representation of the originally proposed title — Between Heaven and Hell — ultimately changed to One Life to Live to avoid controversy. One Life to Live's first sponsor was the Colgate-Palmolive company, who also sponsored The Doctors. ABC bought the show from Nixon in December 1974 when they purchased all stock to her Creative Horizons, Inc. The show was originally a half-hour serial until it was expanded to 45 minutes on July 23, 1976, and to one hour on January 16, 1978.
One Life to Live is set in the fictional city of Llanview, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The show continually centers on the wealthy, WASP Lord family, with the working-class Polish American Woleks, the less wealthy Irish Catholic Rileys, and the African-American Grays present at the series inception. One Life to Live has been called "the most peculiarly American of soap operas: the first serial to present a vast array of ethnic types, broad comic situations, a constant emphasis on social issues, and strong male characters."