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Networks having Soap Opera Woes


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Interesting read. Could have been written in the last 10 years.It seems that budgets got out of control. The GH type stories were partly to blame. Gloria Monty pushed the boundaries and that cost money. People like Geary and Lucci started earning big bucks and daytime was no longer the poor relation.




There is secret and deep concern in some high places at the television networks loss of viewers for various daytime soap operas, and the consternation is for two very good reasons.

Daytime video programming is an area of enormous profits and has been traditionally, one of the chief reasons being the low production costs. Network chieftains responsible for the soap operas are caught in a social vise : Though many contemporary, controversial issues are given detailed exposure on these soap operas – the main approach is chiefly an antiquated one that can only insult the growing number of independent, intelligent females.


CBS , for instance, has slipped considerably from what was once its firm grip on the majority of daytime lady viewers, and that network built its daytime control on the strength of its soap operas. It seems hardly a coincidence that on Monday, the network announced the return of Irna Phillips – the acknowledged 'Queen of the Soaps'- she has created more than anyone else around,is returning as headwriter of the longtime serial 'As The World Turns'. She is a legendary figure in her field and her return is obviously an indication of the beefing up that will take place in soapers.




Network and sponsor concerns at how to keep soaps up to date, and the growing number of young housewives, has been developing for some time. As it happens, I was approached by a major sponsor of these programs not too many years ago, because of a column I had written about soap operas, and was asked if I wanted to write soapers – a very lucrative field for scripters. And it was explained to me at the time, by the sponsor representative, that there was definite need for young blood in the field to take over from the oldtimers.




So what seems to be needed, if the ratings these days are any clue, is not so much temporary content – there is plenty of that these days – but, rather a contemporary attitude to current subject matter. As the old pop song goes, it ain't what you do but the way you do it.

“Credibility gap'” is a term well known in other areas of television, and in politics, but now it is being applied to women's programming, especially the fiction part of it.

And there is one problem arising from the potentially large cut in profits from soap operas and related daytime shows-as a huge moneymaker over the years, other areas of network programming could fall back on these funds in times of need. Now, with those profits threatened, the networks figure to be even more pressed in a tight money market, where there have already been cutbacks in areas of experimentation and higher quality programming.

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“Credibility gap'” is a term well known in other areas of television, and in politics, but now it is being applied to women's programming, especially the fiction part of it.

And the gap just keeps growing. Either TPTB don't know, or don't care.

the main approach is chiefly an antiquated one that can only insult the growing number of independent, intelligent females.

Still the problem today (for males and female viewers). Soaps were once a bit more careful about making up 'soap illnesses' from example, or never naming the illness. Now in an attempt to 'relate' to the audience, writers grab the illness-of-the-day and write a storyline around it... then get it mostly wrong for the sake of amp-ing up the drama. Use.Google.You.Loons!

BnB fans still remember that Grant died from testicular cancer, a cancer with a 95 - 99% survival rate.

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Soaps still have no street cred and that makes them a butt of jokes. A soap is 'real like' or 'real like as it is supposed to be'; however, you end up with people in silly situations that either will/won't ever happen or jutst plain boring story. There are so many issues out the for soaps to explore: Child abandonment (why doesn't one soap have a dead beat dad?); domestic abuse (show it, make a viewers feel the pain); social alienation and depression...

The entire genre is retelling the same damn story over and over again.

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BnB fans still remember that Grant died from testicular cancer, a cancer with a 95 - 99% survival rate.

And what a waste of a compelling and charismatic actor, Charles Grant!

1972 is such an interesting year because it follows a lot of dramatic years of protest, growing cynicism in the government and a seachange in how TV represented women and African Americans. Daytime had to remain relevant as a result of that -- it had to continue chiming with its audience, who were primarily women.

Today, networks would be wise to go back to basics. This article that Paul Raven has summarized for us has one thing underpinning it -- and that is recognition of who its audience is. No yapping about target demos, the networks understand the importance of having a large and committed viewership. Full stop.

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networks would be wise to go back to basics.

Networks & Daytime need to accept change.

Just like they had to deal with HD & the growing cable landscape they need to deal with the demographic change in its audience too.

Minorities (Racial, Ethnic, Sexual) & Women can't be shoved into a closet while Straight White People are exclusively treated as "the norm" anymore.

The longer television as a whole & especially Daytime refuses to deal with that fact the longer they will struggle for relevance.

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