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The OJ Simpson trial, and your soap viewing


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As soap executives and lazy writers love to tell us, the OJ trial (along with cable and women magically being able to leave their homes) killed soap operas.

I wanted to ask you, did you watch the OJ trial? Did you lose interest in soaps because of all the preemptions? Do you know anyone who did?

My aunt was hooked on the OJ coverage, and she still watched soaps, until the last few years, when they became too lousy to bother with.

I was too busy to watch a lot of soaps or the trial at this time, but I did try to tape the CBS soaps when I could. There was just something too ugly about the trial and the media coverage for me to ever get into the trial, aside from reading a little about it.

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My great grandma, grandma, and great aunts, aunts, cousins etc all used to watch soaps and when OJ happened they were addicted to that trial and when it ended only my great grandma went back to soaps, but she didnt have cable tv. The rest all started watching court tv.

My mom had loved AMC from the start and when OJ happened she watched the trial and would only check in with AMC here and there, until i started watching around 2000 and then she liked it again off and on (mostly off, shed tune in for periods of time when say Maria came back).

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Didn't change a thing at my house. The stories moved slowly enough that we were okay to FF through the OJ crap to get to the shows we wanted to see, and being in Canada, a lot of the time if the CBS station were pre-empting, we could at least catch Y&R via our local CTV/Global affiliate. Trying to keep up with GL and ATWT was hard, but once the trial ended we just kept on, and in fact, I added more soaps to our lineup after the trial, starting to watch DAYS, AW and GH in '96-97.

We tuned out of GL after the Annie's trial ended, ATWT at the same time, DAYS around 99, and I moved my viewing to AMC, OLTL and GH until about '01, then I gave up on soaps completely until '09, when DAYS' baby switch got me hooked again. So really, no, OJ had no effect on our viewing habits, we stuck it out to the end and carried on. My mom (who was in her mid-30s), my grandmother (in her mid-60s) and I (who was around 10), just dug our heels in and stuck it out.

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Anyone who lost interest/gave up on soaps "because of O.J." wasn't really into them at the time anyway, or perhap they were looking for a grand excuse such as this to set them free of their obligation to the stories.

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I couldn't watch OJ. I had been in a horrible marriage years before to a sociopath, and every time I looked at OJ I saw that same fake persona. Those guys are very good at fooling people, so good looking, so bright, so totally phony. I couldn't watch the trial coverage because I kept wanting to scream at people who didn't see the monster behind the mask.

I quit watching TV during the trial because there was no escaping it. The news in the evening was saturated with OJ coverage; it wasn't only daytime.

I was grateful to have my soaps back.

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Anyone who lost interest/gave up on soaps "because of O.J." wasn't really into them at the time anyway, or perhap they were looking for a grand excuse such as this to set them free of their obligation to the stories.

I think this is a blaket statement and kind of reaching to be honest,

Soaps more than anything are a habit. Once the habit of watching is broken some people just move on, and it has nothing to do with whats on screen.

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Blaming it on that trial is taking a simplistic one size fits all approach to something that is much more than that.

IA that soaps are mostly a habit and once the habit is broken...but the reasons the habit is broken are a factor. People that are habitual tv watchers will continue to watch the same things or find other shows which is probably what happened here. Some moved on and some didn't. There's general attrition and there's life itself. Some people went on to do other non-television related things such as work and school.

Soaps thrived in part from "generational" viewing. Kids started watching soaps because of their caregivers and they eventually grew up to watch and their kids and so on. At a point, there were more alternatives for daytime viewers and soaps wouldn't necessarily appeal to a generation of viewers who are used to microwaves and instant oatmeal. And the whole OJ explanation does not take into account the fact that some people grew anc soaps didn't represent part of their growth.

I don't personally know anyone anymore who watches soaps and that trial has nothing to do with it.

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I think this is sort of a skewed sampling -- anyone visiting a soap opera message board in 2012, let alone taking the time to reply to a thread, is probably devoted enough to the genre to have gone back as soon as all the preemptions were over.

Soaps, probably more than most TV, are largely habit-based. I know my grandmothers and aunts watched soaps (mostly AW and Days) but didn't really think about them outside of the time they were on the way that I do. It was an hour or two a day to check in with a story. And as much as we all love this genre, I do think a lot of TV ratings depend on those casual viewers. I also suspect that in the really high-rated days, lots of people were just leaving the TV on, say, CBS all day, even if Y&R was the only soap they really watched.

It's way too convenient for execs to say "OJ killed the soaps, oh well," because there were a hundred factors at play, but I do believe there's truth to the idea that the constant preemptions and distractions broke the habit for a significant number of viewers who primarily watched the soaps out of habit and as background noise.

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Before the OJ stuff

1. The Young And The Restless 8.6

2. All My Children 6.6

3. General Hospital 6.2

4. The Bold And The Beautiful 6.1

5. As The World Turns 5.8

6. One Life To Live 5.6

6. Days Of Our Lives 5.6

8. Guiding Light 5.4

9. Another World 3.5

10. Loving 2.7

After OJ mess was over

1. The Young and The Restess 7.5

2.All My Children 6.1

3.General Hospital 5.6

4.The Bold And The Beautiful 5.5

5.One Life To Live 5.4

6.Days Of Our Lives 5.3

7.As The World Turns 5.1

8.Guiding Light 4.4

9.Another World 3.1

10.Loving 2.3

I think ATWT major drop was due to Marland's death. The soap never recovered after he died.

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I think this is a blaket statement and kind of reaching to be honest,

Soaps more than anything are a habit. Once the habit of watching is broken some people just move on, and it has nothing to do with whats on screen.

Not so fast comrade tongue.png... So if your beloved The Hills had been preempted for six weeks and your "habit" had been broken, you mean to say you'd have given up on the show by the time it came back? That's the point I'm trying to make about devotion to a favorite show versus a casual interest/habitual viewing. I just don't believe that anyone would give up watching a show that they loved simply because it went away for a while... they'd be right there when it came back. But if the show wasn't really doing much for them anyway and they found more interesting things to do with their time, then I can understand it. A soap is a commitment and I'm sure there are many fans who actually appreciated being "relieved" of it.

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Not so fast comrade tongue.png... So if your beloved The Hills had been preempted for six weeks and your "habit" had been broken, you mean to say you'd have given up on the show by the time it came back? That's the point I'm trying to make about devotion to a favorite show versus a casual interest/habitual viewing. I just don't believe that anyone would give up watching a show that they loved simply because it went away for a while... they'd be right there when it came back. But if the show wasn't really doing much for them anyway and they found more interesting things to do with their time, then I can understand it. A soap is a commitment and I'm sure there are many fans who actually appreciated being "relieved" of it.

The Hills was never a daily soap opera, m-f that i watched for years on end. HUGE difference. People watched soaps during the day out of habit, lack of options and yes of course a liking. but when the habit is broken and you are introduced to 10 times the options then a likeness can only go so far. I have people in my real life that I know quit watching soaps, soaps they had watched their entire life and loved, after the OJ trial because they kept watching court TV and i have people who after the trial went right back to the soaps and still watch today, and people who hated that the trial even took any time from the soaps soi didnt pay it any attention.

there will never be that one thing that caused a ratings decline and eventual crash. Its a combination of more options, of less people in the home during the day (and by extension, generations growing up without soaps on in the home), of events like the oj trial, of a decline in quality, because favorites leave, etc... its not black and white and to say that the OJ Trial had nothing to do with a ratings loss and people not returning is as ridiculous as saying the OJ trial is the definitive reason soaps ended up dying out.

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The problem is that it's just never questioned that the OJ trial killed soaps. Some people stopped watching, sure. Others came back. Yet it is written in stone that it was OJ, just as it's written in stone that no woman ever left her home before 1994, or that no one watched cable before 1994.

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The problem is that it's just never questioned that the OJ trial killed soaps. Some people stopped watching, sure. Others came back. Yet it is written in stone that it was OJ, just as it's written in stone that no woman ever left her home before 1994, or that no one watched cable before 1994.

thats because OJ is the big, pop culture moment around the time frame of the ratings starting to slide.

I dont think its that people are saying no woman left home or no home had cable before 1994. On those two points tho, the early-mid 90's is when not only cable really took off and was in more and more home, but more and more channels were being created as well. As for woman, they left the home for work decades earlier yes but again more and more were doing it, the number of them was growing, and on that front the kids of these woman were not raised on the soaps the way generations before were, and the kids of these woman also likely had cable.

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