Like much of early television history, the identity of the very first soap opera (or serial) is debatable. Some sources point to DuMont’s Faraway Hill, broadcast from October to December of 1946, as the first. At the very least, Faraway hill is believed to be the first network soap opera. Another contender may be War Bride, broadcast by station WRGB in Schenectady, New York during the summer of 1946 (I don’t know the exact dates), beating Faraway Hill by several months. But it was only seen on one station. And there were earlier examples.
On Sunday, January 30th, 1944, Jack Gould reported in The New York Times that “an era, or something, opens tonight when television’s first serial makes its bow” . It ran from 9:40-10PM on W2XWV (Channel 4), the only station still on the air in New York City with regular programming, and was set to run 13 weeks. According to Gould the series, “which deals with performers in search of success,” was written by Jay Strong and Will Baltin; the cast included Jean Lewis, Loretta Schere, Marian Gardner, Toni Darney, John Kullers and Milton Stewart .
According to television listings in The New York Times, the second episode ran from 8:45-9:15PM (on February 6th) while the third aired from 9-9:30PM (on February 13th) , 4]. I can’t find any Sunday television listings in The New York Times after March 12th, 1944, which is when the seventh episode aired. Did the series continue for another six weeks? If so, it would have ended on April 23rd.
A letter to the editor of The New York Times on February 13th, 1944 explained that Theatre House wasn’t actually television’s first serial:
Back in 1941-42, WPTZ, Philco’s station in Philadelphia, under about the same experimental conditions as I understand the Dumont people are working under at present, did a weekly show called “Last Year’s Nest.” It was frankly soap without the suds or a sponsor–but it did get fan mail. it ran for ten weeks until WPTZ finally had to drop all its live shows in June, 1942. 
According to the letter, Last Year’s Nest was an “exhilarating undertaking because the cast had to be made up from what could practically be called volunteer talent” . The director, Ernest Walling, was able to gather from “little theatre groups and college societies some nuggets of pure gold which his fine handling beat into the shape of skilled television actors–something else again from stage, screen and radio actors, as anyone in the game can tell you” .
How did the letter’s author, Claire Wallis, know about Last Year’s Nest? She wrote “the darn stuff” . Nothing is known about Last Year’s Ends or, for that matter, Theatre House. A preview of the serial was broadcast on Sunday, January 23rd, 1944 .
3 “Leading Events — Other Programs.” New York Times. 6 Feb. 1944: X9.
4 “Leading Events — Other Programs.” New York Times. 13 Feb. 1944: X9.
5 Wallis, Claire. “Other People’s Mail: Department of Corrections.” New York Times. 13 Feb. 1944: X9.
8 “Leading Events–Other Programs.” New York Times. 23 Jan. 1944: X9.