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The future of US soaps


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I've really got into Days and I was wondering what the likelihood is of it lasting much longer. I know none of us know for definite one way or the other, but I read it's the least popular daytime soap left, but I like it better than the others. Is it likely to be over in the next few years or has it had a renaissance that could last? I thought it would be gone about 5 years ago but it wasn't.

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I think with Ron C. writing it will get renewed in January for one more season. I would not have thought that before he took over but he has rejuvenated it somewhat already. I don't have much hope for it lasting past the '18-'19 season though. Ron tends to burnout fairly quickly and NBC does not seem interested in investing in the show (i.e. bring back popular actors full-time such as Ali Sweeney, etc.).

 

I think the only thing that has kept GH on the air is the fact the network is incapable of finding a replacement. They've tried but been unsuccessful. If either one of those took off, GH would have been gone. 

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American TV could not be less committed to the daytime soaps. Even the still-successful ones are on borrowed time on their networks.


We had our attempt at a wave of the future, taking the soaps to streaming - it was on Hulu with AMC and OLTL in 2013, came too early and was run by crazy venture capitalists who didn't know how to manage the money or the productions. The shows were good, the backers and timing was bad.

 

Unless someone does something like that again, soaps are done.

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26 minutes ago, Melroser said:

I think the only thing that has kept GH on the air is the fact the network is incapable of finding a replacement.

 

Agree.  In fact, I think you could say the same about B&B and Y&R.

Edited by Khan
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This is so sad, I love soaps

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What will you guys do if the US soaps end? Would you start watching the British and Australian ones? (if you don't already).

 

Why do the US networks resent the daytime soaps so much these days?

Edited by Edward Skylover
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I've moved on with my life, mostly.

 

The investment in daytime soaps in America is dramatically different vs. the soaps overseas. Here they have strip-mined most of the daytime soap formula for primetime dramas in the evening, and not acknowledged the debt. Soap opera is much more of a dirty word. There's only been one brief period in our history when soaps have had a fraction of the budget, national attention and major network commitment that the British soaps still do, i.e. the early 1980s with GH. You will never see promos on par with the lavish ones Eastenders gets in the UK for an American daytime soap, nor would any soap promos air after 5 PM. It's simply a fundamentally different worldview compared to the UK, a completely different beast and mindset. American soaps built the infrastructure of American television but they very quickly became scorned and for over 20 years have been seen as the lowest form of broadcasting next to tabloid talk shows. You only need to look at Guiding Light, which was our oldest soap opera dating back to radio - it ended up filming almost entirely on location on very poor equipment in an ugly New Jersey suburb, bad sound, picture, editing, etc., practically home video, with actors changing clothes in the back of cars or wearing their own, just to prove they could still keep to the micro-budget the network had allotted them. They were cancelled anyway.

 

I believe the American daytime soap could and should have a future given that its DNA is in everything we make all over television, from streaming to cable - but it will only happen on streaming platforms. Network TV is dying, and network has no commitment to the soap, because committing would require spending real money for new blood, new sets, new equipment, new ideas. They simply are not interested in doing that for something they consider as meaningless as daytime soaps. In America they are seen as dinosaurs.

Edited by Vee
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CBS will likely keep the same type of line-up for many, many years because it's diverse - you have game shows, soaps and a talk show. Part of is that they still bring large numbers of viewers and while 25-54F demo is important - you can't promote anything if no one is watching your network.

 

I'd be curious to know how soaps are doing on streaming and on-demand platforms. While there is a lot of that data for prime time shows, there's nothing on daytime. If people are using, say the CBS Access App to view Y&R/B&B, that's a huge plus for CBS because it funnels people to the other shows, etc.

 

It's part of the reason why CBS pushed the POP repeats (it owns POP). Until both B&B/Y&R collapsed creatively during the past year, the repeats were among the top 4 on the network (Y&R usually #1 daily) - it got people to watch POP that wouldn't. Heck, I'd never bothered with POP if not for the constant pre-emptions, etc. 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, Vee said:

I believe the American daytime soap could and should have a future given that its DNA is in everything we make all over television, from streaming to cable - but it will only happen on streaming platforms. Network TV is dying, and network has no commitment to the soap, because committing would require spending real money for new blood, new sets, new equipment, new ideas. They simply are not interested in doing that for something they consider as meaningless as daytime soaps. In America they are seen as dinosaurs.

 

Thanks for the reply.

 

I will probably carry on watching Days until it ends now (even though I've only recently started watching religiously) but if it ends I'll go back and watch old episodes.

 

It's a shame soaps are viewed like this. TBH I am not that bothered about other forms of televised entertainment. I watch the odd series (13 Reasons Why, an Australian drama called Winners & Losers) but IMO soap is the best television medium. You really get to know the characters and there is such a rich history. That's what I've noticed watching Days recently. For me Days is better than the UK equivalent of Coronation St as the characters are more interesting, better-looking, there is a better range of ages and the show is really soapy in a good way focusing on emotion.

 

Interesting what you say about streaming. Do you mean like Netflix? The thing is, I'm not so interested in new soaps, which will probably be created if the US daytime soaps end. I wonder if Days, GH or any of the others could be sold to Netflix to be produced? It would be a shame to lose that history and that's what I like about the existing soaps.

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I was a die hard soap fan growing up and while Another World was on and was crushed when it ended. I then turned to One Life To Live (because many former AW actors were on it at the time) and faithfully watched that 'til it ended. I can say now though that I only watch more out of boredom (and somewhat of an obligation feeling because I don't want the format to end). If I stopped today I wouldn't miss the current shows. I'd just miss the good ol' days and the daily soap format on tv. 

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5 hours ago, Melroser said:

I was a die hard soap fan growing up and while Another World was on and was crushed when it ended. I then turned to One Life To Live (because many former AW actors were on it at the time) and faithfully watched that 'til it ended. I can say now though that I only watch more out of boredom (and somewhat of an obligation feeling because I don't want the format to end). If I stopped today I wouldn't miss the current shows. I'd just miss the good ol' days and the daily soap format on tv. 

Me also - I watched Y&R first, but when I started watching World Turns and Guiding Light - Y&R never really held the place in my heart that ATWT and GL did.  I stopped watching Y&R for years because it was just so SLOW.  B&B has always stunk to me but I did watch it very early on - from its premeire until around 1992 or 1993 just because on the East Coast I taped the whole lineup and was waiting for World Turns and Guiding Light.  B&B should have been cancelled many years ago.  If Daytime were treated like primetime, B&B ALWAYS lost so much lead-in and handed off horrible numbers to World Turns.  And it didn't matter if it was Y&R lead-in or local news lead-in.  They NEVER have held lead-in numbers. 

 

I'll also never really loved the Bells - not any of them.  I remember an article in Soap Opera Digest when B&B finally rose in the ratings and I'll never forget a quote by Bill Bell - he said "first we caught Guiding Light, then we caught As the World Turns!"  He saw the shows on his own network the competition.  He didn't say "First we caught Another World!" or - "First we caught All My Children!"  or any other number of shows.  He wanted to pick off the shows on his own network rather than who should have REALLY been the competition.  B&B can get cancelled to me - but it will likely be the last one standing on CBS because of its popularity overseas.  And it's 1/2 hour - they can afford to cut corners. 

 

ABC and GH - I'm shocked ABC hasn't chopped GH by now.  They have had success with things like The View and The Chew - they've had misses but they've found footing elsewhere and some other show formats would be so much cheaper they wouldn't feel it at all.  The demos and the ad dollars are just not there with GH.  Days on NBC I have no idea why it's still on.  The numbers are so low - it's like no one is watching.  The 18-34 numbers have been under 100,000 for so long now - on all the shows it's been similar.  New viewers are not tuning in and there are more women that age in 2 or 3 NFL football stadiums on a football Sunday. 

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I think @Vee summed everything up pretty thoroughly. It's not just soaps that are suffering. Primetime, cable, live sports, awards shows... they are all seeing drops due to changes in technology. But daytime soap viewers are literally dying off at this point. It's a genre that's had its day, and it has come to an end. Hopefully it will be preserved for scholars. Soaps never got the respect they deserved due to misogyny/sexist views of what "quality television" means, but they were undeniably influential.

 

It's just too painful to see what these shows have become, honestly. Y&R just saddens me to no end because it meant so much to me growing up. They are just so... half-hearted. If they don't care, how can they ask me to care? 

 

I watch when there's a gay story, and I love Christopher Sean/Paul, so I take a peek at DAYS from time to time.

 

 

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Seeing Y&R in the current state it’s in is just sad. I barely recognize the show at times. Like a lot of us, it meant so much growing up and now it’s like anytime something (story, character, etc) could catch fire, CBS/Sony squander it and make it incredibly corny and/or forced. Hiring SSM instead of giving Alden the head writer spot didn’t help matters either

 

I loved NBC growing up and IMO they’re still feeling the effects of cannibalizing their entire daytime lineup just to get Passions on the air. Passions and AW could’ve coexisted, NBC didn’t want it like that. NBC gutted the lineup for PSNS and eventually ended up axing the show. Now to say if AW would’ve made it to 2017, idk we still had the P&G mismanagement and eventual cancellations  of ATWT and GL so it’s tough to say. NBC’s destruction of its daytime lineup is one footnote in the bigger list of NBC screwups as a whole

 

I’ve never watched the UK/Australian soaps aside from Eastenders reruns on BBC America long ago. I’d love to if I could be pointed in the right direction in terms of which ones and where to start from

 

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I think as @Vee alluded to--the American soap is somewhat dead (or nearing it) at the moment. The writing is on the wall and is obvious the other shows won't last much longer either. At least not DAYS or GH. I don't see them on-air 3-5 years from now. Hope I am proven wrong, but I don't see it. 

 

Vee also made a valid point that soaps' futures were on streaming, but they were ahead of the trend. I think with streaming services being at an all-time how now, now would've been the time for them to transition to that platform and established a firm audience. 

 

I do think though that soaps will bounce back in time. It just takes the right visionary and platform to revive these shows. 

 

I say this all the time, but if they are revived, they can't go off the 5 days a week model. It's outdated broken. Soaps are gonna have to trim their episodes down to 2-3 episodes a week. I also think that they are gonna have to take hiatuses like Aussie soaps do. That allows the shows to save millions on production on those weeks off, and it'll give actors outs to do other projects during that time. I think (too), that'll tempt actors to possibly not leave so suddenly if these shows had outs in contracts for actors. Let's not forget too that the hiatuses would allow everyone to relax and rejuvenate during the downtime. 

 

But the overall primary thing that soaps are gonna need to make a comeback in a new form in the future is new lifeblood. It's not gonna be possibly with the current gatekeepers in power now. 

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On 10/4/2017 at 1:28 PM, Edward Skylover said:

I've really got into Days and I was wondering what the likelihood is of it lasting much longer. I know none of us know for definite one way or the other, but I read it's the least popular daytime soap left, but I like it better than the others. Is it likely to be over in the next few years or has it had a renaissance that could last? I thought it would be gone about 5 years ago but it wasn't.

I started watch Days right before some bigwig at NBC said it was going to be canceled. So I stopped watching for several years. I think that was around 2005. I can't even remember when I picked it up again. Maybe around 2012.

 

So yeah, I agree American daytime soaps are dying, but it's been one hell of a long death.  They could go at any time, but I also won't be surprised if Days and GH are still on the respirator 5 -10 years from now.  Past that I would be very surprised though.

On 10/4/2017 at 1:36 PM, Melroser said:

I think with Ron C. writing it will get renewed in January for one more season. I would not have thought that before he took over but he has rejuvenated it somewhat already. I don't have much hope for it lasting past the '18-'19 season though. Ron tends to burnout fairly quickly and NBC does not seem interested in investing in the show (i.e. bring back popular actors full-time such as Ali Sweeney, etc.).

 

I think the only thing that has kept GH on the air is the fact the network is incapable of finding a replacement. They've tried but been unsuccessful. If either one of those took off, GH would have been gone. 

I agree. NBC seems to be having the same problem though.

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