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Winchester91

Did the focus on appealing to housewives kill US Soaps?

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11 hours ago, Pine Charles said:

I've always been interested in how certain storylines/moments affected viewership.574946_orig.jpg

 

 

A few years ago when I resurrected Celebrating the Soaps (which I've since ended and someone completely different picked up the domain and is using it... bizarre), I posted all these from Soap Opera Digest from the time they started doing so, around April of 1992. Before then, SOD would just list them from top to bottom. 

 

I've personally been a numbers nerd ever since I remember reading Bradley Bell at B&B's 10th anniversary saying that when B&B started in 1987, they were "in the low 5's which were at the time, very bad." Yet, I flip the page over to the ratings for March 1997 and they're in the low 5's... but #3, behind Y&R and DAYS. I was shocked that a low 5 was considered bad, so I started doing my soap research.... 

 

So it's interesting to see the slow erosion of daytime numbers. But before the steep decline across the board (save for Y&R) around 1998, there was definite ebb and flow. In particular, a lot of soaps were posting higher numbers in 1993 and early 1994 (pre-OJ) than they were in '91 and '92. That's why I'm one to agree that the endless OJ coverage indeed knocked the wind out of their sails. 

 

Edited by Gray Bunny

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What I see in these numbers is that while some shows get on a certain momentum and stay there (Y&R late 1980’s, GH for almost a decade before them), you do see when the quality of the show goes up, the ratings climb for a certain period of time before ebbing back down.  But there is more to it that that.

 

i think the quality of Guiding Light (which I watched in hindsight on YouTube) during the ratings posted above does not reflect how good the show was compared to the numbers for others.  But when you added in something outlandish (AMC of the same era, and soon DAYS with Reilly), the ratings grow significantly and hold for several years while the show rides that wave.

 

 So the casual viewer of that period definitely tuned in for crazy, and maybe stayed for five years or so.  And they left.  And the shows not catering to that market tried to grab them, and destroyed themselves.  Where they had solid numbers and stability, they drove away their core audience.

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17 hours ago, Pine Charles said:
6 hours ago, Gray Bunny said:

I've personally been a numbers nerd ever since I remember reading Bradley Bell at B&B's 10th anniversary saying that when B&B started in 1987, they were "in the low 5's which were at the time, very bad." Yet, I flip the page over to the ratings for March 1997 and they're in the low 5's... but #3, behind Y&R and DAYS. I was shocked that a low 5 was considered bad, so I started doing my soap research.... 

I've always been interested in how certain storylines/moments affected viewership.

 

I just want to reiterate that the correlation between ratings and weekly storylines is fictitious reporting by soap editors who obviously never took a course in basic statistics. 

 

For all of you "numbers nerds", the magazines never reported the expected fluctuation in order to establish if a storyline had more impact on the change in ratings than mere chance.  For example, when a political voting poll is printed, the number usually includes +/- 4 points, meaning that if the poll were to be taken again in a week the number could fluctuate by 4 points just by chance, but any change above or below 5 points would be meaningful.  In the above story a single percentage point change was attributed to WIll's murder on AMC but, certainly one percentage point was within the margin of error of the original ratings measurement.  In fact, there are infinite variables that could have affected why an additional 300,000 people decided to watch AMC that week; a quick review of the weeks prior and post reveals that audience response was probably an insignificant factor when compared to weather, other breaking news, or mere chance.  Certainly, it stands to reason that 300,00 new people didn't all decide to watch AMC that week because Tad & Dixie reconciled, they were fans who came in and out of watching over the course of the year.  In the current parlance we would refer to this as 'fake news'.

 

BTW, that bar chart is a sure sign that they had no concept of statistics.  The horizontal bars indicate a relationship between the ratings that does not exist and bar lengths vary in different issues to represent further supercilious effects.  An actual ratings report would never use a horizontal bar chart of this type and it is purely included for aesthetic purposes.

 

 

Edited by j swift

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3 hours ago, titan1978 said:

But when you added in something outlandish (AMC of the same era, and soon DAYS with Reilly), the ratings grow significantly and hold for several years while the show rides that wave..

Are you referring to the Natalie/Janet story on AMC??

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3 hours ago, Pine Charles said:

Are you referring to the Natalie/Janet story on AMC??

Natalie/Janet, Kendall Hart, Dimitri And Wildwind, Tad/Ted Orsini and who killed Will Cortlandt, the tornado etc, were all dramatic, over the top stories within about 2 to 3 years of each other and drove ratings momentum for AMC, and they kept trying to top or get back to that era for the next 20 years.

 

I loved that era, but the momentum is pretty clear in hind sight.  There was no story at the time that I can remember that was like Tom and Brooke losing Laura, or Mark’s drug addiction and intervention.  I think Ceara was an incest survivor but my memory is fuzzy on her.  It was less gritty than AMC was before, slickly produced high emotion and laughs and outlandish characters.

 

When you look at the prior decade, it’s pretty funny to see OLTL and GH were driven by more grounded, realistic stories while AMC at the same time was going over the top.

 

 

Edited by titan1978

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The last time I can recall a soap rating jumping due to a must see event was in the summer 1997 at the climax of the Annie Dutton Trial where she was exposed on the witness stand while the whole town was witnessing this, as well as, the time that Kristen/Susan story was exposed.   Both of these were the summer of 1997.

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6 minutes ago, titan1978 said:

Natalie/Janet, Kendall Hart, Dimitri And Wildwind, Tad/Ted Orsini and who killed Will Cortlandt, the tornado etc, were all dramatic, over the top stories within about 2 to 3 years of each other and drove ratings momentum for AMC, and they kept trying to top or get back to that era for the next 20 years.

 

I loved that era, but the momentum is pretty clear in hind sight.  There was no story at the time that I can remember that was like Tom and Brooke losing Laura, or Mark’s drug addiction and intervention.  I think Ceara was an incest survivor but my memory is fuzzy on her.  It was less gritty than AMC was before, slickly produced high emotion and laughs and outlandish characters.

 

When you look at the prior decade, it’s pretty funny to see OLTL and GH were driven by more grounded, realistic stories while AMC at the same time was going over the top.

 

 

 

Ceara's character & storyline was under Agnes Nixon - still with Washam & Broderick as her two right-hands. McTavish would succeed Broderick (who left to become co-HW of GL) as Associate Head Writer, gunning for the top spot - and she ultimately drove Washam to quit.

 

Her otherwise over-the-top ideas initially worked, as they were tempered with Nixon's focus on character-exploration, as well as then-EP Felicia Behr keeping AMC grounded in Pine Valley. But a couple of years pass, and Tad / Ted Orsini and the Justin / Will Cortlandt lookalike storylines were indicative of McTavish's inability to write from character. She kept going back to her bag of plot devices... 

 

So they brought back Lorraine Broderick, who won the Outstanding Writing Team Emmy as HW three consecutive years. (BTW, McT was crazy pissed about that - she'd even throw shade in interviews about it). AMC was back as it should be. But the network did run interference, mandating more outlandish, plot-driven stories - which really aren't Broderick's cup of tea. And after Disney took over, they fired Behr and replaced her Francesca James... fired and rehired Robin Mattson, then rehired Megan McTavish (freshly fired as GL's head writer), dumping Broderick - which provoked Nixon to walk away.

 

McTavish was given free rein, and would then write the worst year of stinky poop in her entire career. It was such utter crap, and Nixon's clearly well-justified boycott was so embarrassing for ABC, that they very quietly removed McT from AMC in early 1999 - allowing her to ghost-write for the then Head-writer-less OLTL. ABC didn't confirm this until May.

 

As you mentioned, ABC kept having her back - even though she had been outright FIRED three times! Whenever ABC Daytime had a regime-change, McTavish came back knocking with her plan to "save AMC." The only thing worse than she was for AMC, was Chuck Pratt. 

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On 7/28/2018 at 1:23 PM, xtr said:

 

I'm going to go off a tangent for a moment but they should definitely have a black Bachelor. And I think the show needs to cast for that season in the manner they did for the black Bachelorette. They need to have a good amount of black woman/women of different races, so they will alienate less people.

 

They did a really nice job of casting for Rachel, the black Bachelorette. She had a lot of black men/men of different races in her cast, plus a decent amount of white men as well. Most of the men they cast for her were handsome and were gainfully employed/accomplished. I don't watch the Bachelorette/Bachelor regularly.  But I've seen different casts and her group of men may have been the best looking and most accomplished cast I've seen. Certainly the most diverse. If they casted in the same manner for a Black Bachelor it would land better with people in general IMO.

 

Going back to the OP's question, I definitely do not blame housewives for soaps declining. If anything they helped soaps get on their feet when they first started airing and helped make them popular. I don't blame any particular group for the decline of soaps, except for people who run the shows. I think that factors like poor writing and ignoring character's/shows histories have helped soaps decline. 

 

 

They did a terrible job casting for Rachel. She said as much. Alot of the men weren't appealing to her. They even had black men on there that don't date black women.

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11 hours ago, Soaplovers said:

The last time I can recall a soap rating jumping due to a must see event was in the summer 1997 at the climax of the Annie Dutton Trial where she was exposed on the witness stand while the whole town was witnessing this, as well as, the time that Kristen/Susan story was exposed.   Both of these were the summer of 1997.

When the resurgence happened a few years ago, and they were all back to 2007 numbers, GH had a slow build and bump when Robin was reunited with Anna and Robert, and broke up Patrick’s wedding to Sabrina.  But those numbers didn’t stay because the audience tuning in for that story eroded when Robin again left a couple of months after, followed by Patrick leaving the show.  It’s the last time I remember seeing an old fashioned plot driven spike, and while McCullough was not on screen constantly before her return, she was seen enough and searched for that it built for a long time to get those numbers.

 

There may have been a similar ratings increase and bump when during the DAYS baby switch story with EJ and Nicole.

 

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On 8/13/2018 at 6:59 PM, YurSoakinginit said:

 

Ceara's character & storyline was under Agnes Nixon - still with Washam & Broderick as her two right-hands. McTavish would succeed Broderick (who left to become co-HW of GL) as Associate Head Writer, gunning for the top spot - and she ultimately drove Washam to quit.

 

Her otherwise over-the-top ideas initially worked, as they were tempered with Nixon's focus on character-exploration, as well as then-EP Felicia Behr keeping AMC grounded in Pine Valley. But a couple of years pass, and Tad / Ted Orsini and the Justin / Will Cortlandt lookalike storylines were indicative of McTavish's inability to write from character. She kept going back to her bag of plot devices... 

 

So they brought back Lorraine Broderick, who won the Outstanding Writing Team Emmy as HW three consecutive years. (BTW, McT was crazy pissed about that - she'd even throw shade in interviews about it). AMC was back as it should be. But the network did run interference, mandating more outlandish, plot-driven stories - which really aren't Broderick's cup of tea. And after Disney took over, they fired Behr and replaced her Francesca James... fired and rehired Robin Mattson, then rehired Megan McTavish (freshly fired as GL's head writer), dumping Broderick - which provoked Nixon to walk away.

 

McTavish was given free rein, and would then write the worst year of stinky poop in her entire career. It was such utter crap, and Nixon's clearly well-justified boycott was so embarrassing for ABC, that they very quietly removed McT from AMC in early 1999 - allowing her to ghost-write for the then Head-writer-less OLTL. ABC didn't confirm this until May.

 

As you mentioned, ABC kept having her back - even though she had been outright FIRED three times! Whenever ABC Daytime had a regime-change, McTavish came back knocking with her plan to "save AMC." The only thing worse than she was for AMC, was Chuck Pratt. 

Yes, McTavish’s second stint as HW of AMC was pure crap; I largely loved her first stint, however.

I don’t know if it was the influence of FMB, but I think most of the stories worked then (I hated that Tad/Dixie/Brooke/Edmund/Maria clusterf*ck, though 🤮).

Erica & Kendall in court really was gripping, IMO.

 

Edited by Pine Charles

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