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Why did the Soaps even expand to 60 minutes??


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#1 allmc2008

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 06:10 PM

I know that back then they had the money to maintain a 60 minute soap but what was there reasoning?? I think it did more harm than good because it forced a lot of soaps to cancel plus in the long run 60 minutes costs to much to produce.
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#2 juniorz1

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 06:27 PM

I'm pretty sure it all started with the popularity of 'Another World' and ended with their (failed) expansion to 90 minutes. I can't even begin to imagine what it was like to produce 7 1/2 hours of television in a 5 day work week. Oy!
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#3 koos

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 07:47 PM

Another thing is that they actually wrote dialog, real dialog, back then. Heck... I watched an ATWT from the '50s on YouTube, when it was just 15 minutes, and there were only TWO scenes. Two long scenes. Maybe 3, tops, but one was so short as to not matter, IIRC.

Didn't AW have incredibly long scenes when it was 90 minutes?

All soaps should've cut back to 30 minutes when the MTV Edit took over. Days has been the worst offender over the years, IMO. Repeated conversations for a month, flashbacks all the time... anything to fill up space. Anything besides, you know, dialog.
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#4 soapfave06

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 08:47 PM

I would've liked to seen the soaps go back to 30 minutes. They should've at least given that a shot before straight cancelling them.
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#5 Max

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 09:12 PM

As Juniorz1 indicated, it began with AW. For their tenth anniversary in 1974, they were given a trial 60 minute episode, which was a huge ratings success. So, in January 1975, it was permanently expanded to one hour, and that too was a big success. A couple of months later, DOOL successfully expanded to 60 minutes (following a trial episode for that length). This in turn created a domino effect where the most successful soaps of the day were expanded to one hour. Perhaps this domino effect may not have been so pronounced had so many 1970s soaps failed, but with only AMC, Y&R, and (to a much lesser extent) RH succeeding, it made business sense to cancel the failed soaps and replace them with expanded versions of the hit soaps.

More mysterious to me is why networks were so reluctant to contract the soaps once their ratings started to decline. Aside from AW being contracted from 90 minutes back to 60, all other soaps were stuck at their maximum lengths until their cancellations. I know that people correctly point out that--on a per-minute basis--a half-hour soap is more expensive than an hour soap is. Even so, it still costs more total money to do a 60 minute soap, and the "all-or-nothing" attitude wasn't helpful (when one considers that shortening the soaps may have trimmed the unnecessary fat). If the networks were terrified of having to give time back to affiliates, they could have prevented that from happening (while still trimming the length of the soaps) by creating low cost game and talk shows.

Edited by Max, 29 September 2012 - 09:14 PM.

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#6 allmc2008

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 09:55 PM

As Juniorz1 indicated, it began with AW. For their tenth anniversary in 1974, they were given a trial 60 minute episode, which was a huge ratings success. So, in January 1975, it was permanently expanded to one hour, and that too was a big success. A couple of months later, DOOL successfully expanded to 60 minutes (following a trial episode for that length). This in turn created a domino effect where the most successful soaps of the day were expanded to one hour. Perhaps this domino effect may not have been so pronounced had so many 1970s soaps failed, but with only AMC, Y&R, and (to a much lesser extent) RH succeeding, it made business sense to cancel the failed soaps and replace them with expanded versions of the hit soaps.

More mysterious to me is why networks were so reluctant to contract the soaps once their ratings started to decline. Aside from AW being contracted from 90 minutes back to 60, all other soaps were stuck at their maximum lengths until their cancellations. I know that people correctly point out that--on a per-minute basis--a half-hour soap is more expensive than an hour soap is. Even so, it still costs more total money to do a 60 minute soap, and the "all-or-nothing" attitude wasn't helpful (when one considers that shortening the soaps may have trimmed the unnecessary fat). If the networks were terrified of having to give time back to affiliates, they could have prevented that from happening (while still trimming the length of the soaps) by creating low cost game and talk shows.

I think they should have started to bring them back to 30 minutes after O.J. Simpson when the ratings started to dwindle. I think if they went back to 30 minutes the ratings would jump back up because they would be easier to watch. Maybe they could cut them to only air on MWF as well and show repeats on the off days. Maybe they could do a "Daytime to Remember" show on TR to show classic episodes.
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#7 LoyaltoAMC

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 10:25 PM

Always wondered why P&G never expanded Search for Tomorrow to an hour in late 1970s when it still pretty highly rated. Besides B&B, it's probably the only consistently well-rated show never to expand to an hour. All the other shows that never expanded to an hour were either long-gone or struggling by the time the hour format became popular.
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#8 soapfave06

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 10:37 PM

Always wondered why P&G never expanded Search for Tomorrow to an hour in late 1970s when it still pretty highly rated. Besides B&B, it's probably the only consistently well-rated show never to expand to an hour. All the other shows that never expanded to an hour were either long-gone or struggling by the time the hour format became popular.


I think I heard somewhere that Mary Stuart didn't want the show moved to an hour.
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#9 LoyaltoAMC

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 10:43 PM

I think I heard somewhere that Mary Stuart didn't want the show moved to an hour.


How much power did Mary wield? Having writers fired (specifically the Hursleys, which I read about on wikipedia), refusing to have the show expand to an hour. Geez, even Agnes didn't get her way when she protested against AMC going to an hour...and at that point, Agnes could've asked for the moon and gotten it, since AMC was the only flourishing ABC soap at the time.

Edited by LoyaltoAMC, 29 September 2012 - 10:46 PM.

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#10 ~bl~

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 12:41 AM

While this isn't a reason that they expanded, it is cheaper to have one 60 minute soap opera, than two 30 minute shows due to how they are made, right?
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#11 Paul Raven

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 01:03 AM

Yes, a 60 min show is cheaper than 2 30 min shows.

At one point it was reported that CBS/P&G were considering expanding Search and ATWT to 45 min each with SFT 12.30 - 1.15 and ATWT 1.15 - 2.00 but ultimately they decided to go with 60 min ATWT.

Perhaps affiliates at that point didn't want to give up the 1.00 - 1.30 slot which CBS had not programmed for years.

As for Mary Stuart,she may well have had the opportunity to speak up,but I don't think she had any real power in decision making.In 1980 she was complaining to SOD about Jo's storylines and her being powerless to change things.Obviously,this was a different scenario to the 50's thru 70's when she may have had a bit more sway.
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#12 JellicleCat

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 03:45 AM

Another thing is that they actually wrote dialog, real dialog, back then. Heck... I watched an ATWT from the '50s on YouTube, when it was just 15 minutes, and there were only TWO scenes. Two long scenes. Maybe 3, tops, but one was so short as to not matter, IIRC.


ATWT was never just 15 minutes. It ran for 30 minutes from the very first episode, and was the first show that did that. (The Edge of Night, which premiered a few hours later, was the second)
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#13 frequentsoapfan

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 10:21 AM

Well they don't really run for 60 minutes only like 41-44 mins when you take out commercials. I hate that B&B is about 15-20 mins because they only focus on one story as it is and it's harder to fit in more stories. I feel like if some of them scale back we'll have even les sof the supporting characters and more of the airhogs on everyday and it still won't improve the stories. GH might be the worst flashback offender at the moment and I just know they'd still use all those flashbacks to save money is a shorter format.
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#14 allmc2008

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 11:47 AM

Well they don't really run for 60 minutes only like 41-44 mins when you take out commercials. I hate that B&B is about 15-20 mins because they only focus on one story as it is and it's harder to fit in more stories. I feel like if some of them scale back we'll have even les sof the supporting characters and more of the airhogs on everyday and it still won't improve the stories. GH might be the worst flashback offender at the moment and I just know they'd still use all those flashbacks to save money is a shorter format.

Doesn't B&B have way to many contract players for a 30 minute soap anyway??
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#15 SFK

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 01:44 PM

And yet they still tell the same stories over and over again. :P. Actually, I think B&B is very easy to follow and catch up with given its half hour format and pacing. Whenever I watch, the episode always seems over when it barely just began. It's a minimal commitment soap and perhaps more of the soaps would have fared better, especially in this age, had they remained a half hour.
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#16 frequentsoapfan

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 02:06 PM

Doesn't B&B have way to many contract players for a 30 minute soap anyway??

You can watch that soap for two weeks straight and not see more than 5 of the people that are in the opening.
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#17 allmc2008

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 05:34 PM

As Juniorz1 indicated, it began with AW. For their tenth anniversary in 1974, they were given a trial 60 minute episode, which was a huge ratings success. So, in January 1975, it was permanently expanded to one hour, and that too was a big success. A couple of months later, DOOL successfully expanded to 60 minutes (following a trial episode for that length). This in turn created a domino effect where the most successful soaps of the day were expanded to one hour. Perhaps this domino effect may not have been so pronounced had so many 1970s soaps failed, but with only AMC, Y&R, and (to a much lesser extent) RH succeeding, it made business sense to cancel the failed soaps and replace them with expanded versions of the hit soaps.

More mysterious to me is why networks were so reluctant to contract the soaps once their ratings started to decline. Aside from AW being contracted from 90 minutes back to 60, all other soaps were stuck at their maximum lengths until their cancellations. I know that people correctly point out that--on a per-minute basis--a half-hour soap is more expensive than an hour soap is. Even so, it still costs more total money to do a 60 minute soap, and the "all-or-nothing" attitude wasn't helpful (when one considers that shortening the soaps may have trimmed the unnecessary fat). If the networks were terrified of having to give time back to affiliates, they could have prevented that from happening (while still trimming the length of the soaps) by creating low cost game and talk shows.

Are there any AW 90 minute episodes on YT??

Never mind. I just founded one!!

Edited by allmc2008, 30 September 2012 - 07:05 PM.

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#18 allmc2008

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 07:06 PM

Another thing is that they actually wrote dialog, real dialog, back then. Heck... I watched an ATWT from the '50s on YouTube, when it was just 15 minutes, and there were only TWO scenes. Two long scenes. Maybe 3, tops, but one was so short as to not matter, IIRC.

Didn't AW have incredibly long scenes when it was 90 minutes?

All soaps should've cut back to 30 minutes when the MTV Edit took over. Days has been the worst offender over the years, IMO. Repeated conversations for a month, flashbacks all the time... anything to fill up space. Anything besides, you know, dialog.

I just found some and the scenes are like 10 minutes long!!
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#19 will81

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 07:08 PM

If you compare the running time of a one hour show from the 70's (roughly 46min) to one from today (roughly 37min) then we aren't really watching a one hour show anymore anyway. More like 45min. I am sure in time we will be watching a 30min soap with 30min of commercials.
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#20 SFK

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 08:14 PM

I've seen a couple of 90 min. episodes and the scenes tend to start with lengthy sequences of stage business, like Louise walking back and forth in the living room arranging things before the doorbell FINALLY rings.
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