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Soaps are declining... but not everywhere !


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I wanted to share with you a brief history of the passion France has always had for US soap operas... just to give you hope for the future !

The first soap broadcast here was Santa Barbara in 1985. (October 14 at 6.45 PM, I was in front of my TV !). The French channel that aired the show (TF1) tentatively bought the first 40 episodes, and we saw half an episode every evening.

SB reached an average audience of 10 million people every day (55 million people in France at the time) and even 12 million by the time C.C. Capwell got out of his coma... and a 80% ratings share !

I was young then, but I perfectly remember that men, women, young and older people... EVERYBODY watched the show religiously, and constantly talked about it everywhere... That was amazing !

Following that success, GH, OLTL, GL, Loving, came here in 1988-89... Strangely even Search for Tomorrow aired for years in the middle of the night... and was quite a success !

But, French government didn't approve of the "invasion" of US soaps and shows on TV, and many soaps disappeared from our screens in the early 90's, despite their success. The goal was to promote and create French shows.

In 1989, Y&R and B&B debuted here, and became instant hits : Y&R reaches an average audience of 7 million people, and a 40% ratings share (airs on TF1 1.45-2.45 PM)...

B&B airs 9.00-9.30 AM on France 2, with an average audience of 2 million people and 60% ratings share. Loving aired immediately before B&B through its entire run (from 1988-2000), replaced by DAYS since 2000... (we see half an episode everyday).

In mid-March we saw 4 episodes of AMC aired on ABC in 1994... It is highly talked about the return of AMC here...

With the imminent modification of French laws regarding foreign programs, erasing the obligation of broadcasting an important amount of French-made fiction, it is highly hoped that Us soaps will make their way back here in the coming months.

I hope so !

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Thank you so much for posting this, that is very interesting! Funny that Y&R gets more viewers in France than it does now in the US :D

When B&B first started being aired in Greece in 1989, it was a HUGE success, much like what you described with SANTA BARBARA.

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Santa Barbara had the exact same success in Croatia in the 90's as well. During the war, because it's popularity, recaps of each episode aired on RADIO as well because many people lived in their shelters at the time, with no tv.

There is also a famous story that everyone mentions even today, how this poor old lady went to her priest and wanted to pay him to dedicate one Sunday mass to Eden Capwell, so that she could walk again. :lol:

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Does anyone happen to have TV ratings for daytime shows in Europe? I am always curious about how each American show performs in overseas markets. I find Y&R to be very non-European, and I am surprised it performs extremely well in France, but what about other nations? B&B has a very international feel to it, so no wonder many nations air it. How did GH perform in the 1980s and early 1990s worldwide when it was a major hit here in America?

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