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45 Minute OLTL & GH


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The length of 45 minutes for a soap is the oddest in history, but of course that is exactly what happened with OLTL & GH between July 1976 until January 1978 (for OLTL) and November 1977 (for GH). For the life of me, however, I could never really figure out why ABC chose to make these scheduling decisions.

Has any reason ever been given for this? Personally, the most likely scenario is that ABC was either going to axe OLTL or GH in 1976, but really wasn't sure which one to cancel. (OLTL had failed to rise above the mid-tier of the ratings even after being on the air for eight years, while the once blockbuster GH was sinking fast.) Thus, temporarily expand both soaps to 45 minutes and keep only the stronger one (and then expand that soap to an hour).

Even more perplexing is that ABC decided to make these expansions while AMC (its sole hit at the time) still remained at 30 minutes (and would not double in length until April 1977). While this is a topic for a whole other thread, I never understood why ABC gave AMC a week of trial long hour episodes in 1975 (the week before RH debuted), but failed to expand it on a permanent basis until almost two years later. (For instance--in contrast to what ABC did--CBS gave TPIR a trial long week of 60 minute shows in September 1975, and that game show was expanded to an hour just two months later.)

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AMC aired for an hour the week before RH debuted to get AMC viewers used to watching the show 30 minutes earlier and to attract an audience for RH.

The 45-minute thing for OLTL/GH was an attempt to keep viewers tuned to ABC. Once GH went off at 2:15, the other networks were already fifteen minutes into what they were showing, so ABC was counting on viewers sticking with OLTL.

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Schemering says it was a tactic to get people to watch GH which was at its infamous extremely low rated point at the time. OLTL wasn't doing wonderful either, but was considered in healthier shape. With 45 mins, they felt people would tune into GH earlier (which seems odd logic, but), if they were watching OLTL, and as Shadows says, they'd at any rate not bother flipping the channel to catch another network soap midway through. It is odd but it seemed to have, kinda, worked, or at least didn't do any harm.

In a 1975 interview in All Her Children, Agnes mentions how firmly she resists the idea of expanding AMC to an hour, but she gave in for that week, and apparently timed it to a week when there would be a lot of story. It was done to get viewers used to the idea of watching 30 minutes early to help pave the way for RH. She finally gave in to the hour format after much pressure with several concessions like budget, and of course the promise that the videotaped episodes would now be saved.

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Based on the comments AMS & Eric wrote, it would appear instead that ABC intended to keep OLTL & GH as 45 minute soaps on a permanent basis. Is this a correct assumption?

The fact that Nixon was strongly opposed to expanding AMC explains why there was such a large gap in between the trial long hour episode and AMC becoming an hour show on a permanent basis. How come Agnes wasn't as opposed to OLTL expanding 45 minutes? I can only assume it was because she just didn't care as much as about OLTL as she did AMC. (And please note that I did not just make that last statement in order to feed into the "victimhood" that OLTL viewers sometimes feel; as a matter of fact, I see little wrong with the fact that Nixon likes AMC better, as it is just plain unrealistic to expect that an artist would love all her creations equally.)

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I think Agnes had little or no creative control over OLTL at the time, so she really didn't have a say in what they would do with it.

I don't know what ABC's long-term plans were for the 45-minute shows. I just always assumed that they wanted to build the audiences for OLTL and GH before going ahead with the hour expansion.

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I searched Google News, there is a New York Times article on the subject from 3/26/78 which seems to shed some light on the subject:

"ABC has just renovated an entire armory for " One Life to Live," which waited until moving into the facility" before expanding the show from 95 (sic-- I think they mean 45) to 60 ..."

http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0B17FB3C5513728DDDAF0A94DB405B888BF1D3&scp=6&sq=One+Life+to+Live&st=p

Unfortunately it's a pay-per-view article and I can't see the rest, but the point seems to be OLTL needed to switch studios before they could expand?

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Based on the comments AMS & Eric wrote, it would appear instead that ABC intended to keep OLTL & GH as 45 minute soaps on a permanent basis. Is this a correct assumption?

The fact that Nixon was strongly opposed to expanding AMC explains why there was such a large gap in between the trial long hour episode and AMC becoming an hour show on a permanent basis. How come Agnes wasn't as opposed to OLTL expanding 45 minutes? I can only assume it was because she just didn't care as much as about OLTL as she did AMC. (And please note that I did not just make that last statement in order to feed into the "victimhood" that OLTL viewers sometimes feel; as a matter of fact, I see little wrong with the fact that Nixon likes AMC better, as it is just plain unrealistic to expect that an artist would love all her creations equally.)

I don't think Agnes would have had any say one way or another. She was still AMC's co exec producer and writer--but had no active control or ownership at OLTL by that time at all. While apparently she did still have some influence (Robin Strasser says it was her who suggested Robin play Dorian), she didnt' have as much control.

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I think it was the current head of daytime who suggested Dorian to Robin in their, "I don't wanna play Christina anymore" meeting. I do wonder though if Agnes created Christina with Robin in mind. Robin said once that she couldn't recreate her Rachel thang on AMC because Erica was already there, so I wonder if she grew to resent Christina very quickly.

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