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OzFrog

What caused the failure of 80s and 90s Daytime Soaps

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I would love to see a NY produced soap again.  I always liked them more.  When GL and ATWT were good, they drew me in far more than Y&R and B&B.  

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34 minutes ago, OzFrog said:

 

I mentioned this on the 90s Ratings thread in the Cancelled Soaps group. Even as early as 1990 (three years into its run), B&B was hitting Top 5 in overall households, sometimes getting as high as #3 in 1991. And this was way before Sheila even crossed over from Y&R (incidentally 1990 was when that storyline was just starting on Y&R).

 

It wasn't just Sheila, it had a fantastic timeslot in most markets but Sheila crossing over was a big part of the show getting Y&R's audience and keeping them engaged. And considering the quality of content the show put out as the years progressed I have my doubts it would be where it is for as long as it has been without those two factors 

1 minute ago, Fevuh said:

I would love to see a NY produced soap again.  I always liked them more.  When GL and ATWT were good, they drew me in far more than Y&R and B&B.  

 

Honestly, I miss GL a bunch, particularly the quality of the performances on that show. It was always a notch above the rest from an acting standpoint and IMO this was even true as late as 2005. 

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3 minutes ago, Vizion said:

Honestly, I miss GL a bunch, particularly the quality of the performances on that show. It was always a notch above the rest from an acting standpoint and IMO this was even true as late as 2005. 

I don't miss the newer version although I kept watching.  They tried hard with a crappy budget.  But I agree about the acting.  The NY soaps had people who worked on Broadway and had done stage and you just don't see that with the West Coast shows like the NY soaps were.  To me the caliber of acting was just far superior overall.  I wish a network would take the leap and do it.  

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3 hours ago, Faulkner said:

Great post, @GLATWT88.

Thank you! I always was interested in the rise and fall of soaps and have done a lot of reading in regards to that aspect of soaps. There's more to it I'm sure as my research isn't as extensive as I like because it's quiet challenging to find a lot of information for these long running soaps.

3 hours ago, Vizion said:

 

It wasn't just Sheila, it had a fantastic timeslot in most markets but Sheila crossing over was a big part of the show getting Y&R's audience and keeping them engaged. And considering the quality of content the show put out as the years progressed I have my doubts it would be where it is for as long as it has been without those two factors 

 

Honestly, I miss GL a bunch, particularly the quality of the performances on that show. It was always a notch above the rest from an acting standpoint and IMO this was even true as late as 2005. 

I was just looking at the 2005 ratings for GL this week. I was watching at the time but I really can't remember off the top of my head what was going on at that particular time. GL actually had a few great weeks (by GL standards) in late 2005 surpassing AMC and DOOL one week each and rating very close to AMC and OLTL throughout that period. Makes me wonder what those numbers could have looked like had GL not already been in a crappy timeslot in several major markets by then. 

Edited by GLATWT88

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5 minutes ago, Fevuh said:

But I agree about the acting.  The NY soaps had people who worked on Broadway and had done stage and you just don't see that with the West Coast shows like the NY soaps were.  To me the caliber of acting was just far superior overall.  I wish a network would take the leap and do it.  

 

Weren't daytime dramas originally created in New York to be day jobs for Broadway actors? I would guess once daytime dramas started being produced in Los Angeles, we saw more actors being hired for looks as opposed to actual acting talent.

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You hit the nail right on the head @GLATWT88.

 

There are countless factors as to why the later soaps failed, both from the networks and from soap fans themselves.

 

Somehow, B&B was the exception to the rule. The great time slot really helped, plus the Sheila crossover and the introduction of the Spectra crew really helped as well, IMO. 

17 minutes ago, Fevuh said:

But I agree about the acting.  The NY soaps had people who worked on Broadway and had done stage and you just don't see that with the West Coast shows like the NY soaps were.  To me the caliber of acting was just far superior overall.  I wish a network would take the leap and do it.  

Agreed. 

 

It all depends on if they want to spend the money or not.

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I will also add that many of these new shows (with the exceptions of Generations and Loving, whose timeslots were killers) were hour-long from the outset. That's a major time investment in virtual strangers to make every day, especially at the tail end of a soap lineup. I think a big part of B&B's and Capitol's relative ratings success is down to being a short half hour blip between familiar shows for viewers.

 

I could easily sit down and sample a taste of a new half hour show daily while I wait for my old beloved hour-long show to start. But I'm way less likely to keep the TV tuned in to an hour of unfamiliar faces at the tail end of the daily lineup. You're way likelier to get folks changing the channel for that hour. IMO, a new soap can never be a full hour from the outset and be successful. Not unless TPTB were okay slogging it out for 5-10 years with mediocre ratings while the show would find its audience. They almost did with SB, but even then...inevitable cracks began to show.

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2 hours ago, Fevuh said:

I've said the same thing RE: B&B.  They gave it the slot after Y&R in alot of the country or after the noon news.  Capitol should have been given more of a chance.  It was cancelled with ratings in the middle of the pack.  It might have been the lowest rated CBS soap but they were determined to give another show to the Bells.  I remember one time one of the Soap magazines named Capitol's cast as the best looking in Daytime and they really were.  

 

And this is not to slight Bell at all but looking at it as an adult now, with some awareness of how the entertainment, particularly television industry operates, this is definitely the sense I get.  Y&R was consistently rising in ratings and in terms of pop culture relevance, so CBS (as most corporations are wont to do) wanted to replicate this as often as they could in their lineup.

 

With the proliferation of cable T.V. and a lot more programming choices, the landscape had shifted and there was no longer room on broadcast for two dozen soap operas as had been in previous decades. And Capitol was likely the 'odd man out' in the daytime afternoon lineup. You had Y&R that was gaining, As The World Turns and Guiding Light that were still pretty strong in viewer loyalty.  Not to mention Oprah rounding it all out. Capitol was probably viewed as the most vulnerable in that lineup.

 

Ironically if you look at current times, Capitol would have been the most relevant of all the daytime dramas on network television.

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Sunset Beach probably would have worked out a lot better had it aired as a prime time series on the WB. Although I think Garth Ancier at the time had just cancelled Savannah over indifference to serialized dramas. I believe Ancier has since changed his mind LOL.

Edited by soapfan770

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1 hour ago, DramatistDreamer said:

 

And this is not to slight Bell at all but looking at it as an adult now, with some awareness of how the entertainment, particularly television industry operates, this is definitely the sense I get.  Y&R was consistently rising in ratings and in terms of pop culture relevance, so CBS (as most corporations are wont to do) wanted to replicate this as often as they could in their lineup.

 

With the proliferation of cable T.V. and a lot more programming choices, the landscape had shifted and there was no longer room on broadcast for two dozen soap operas as had been in previous decades. And Capitol was likely the 'odd man out' in the daytime afternoon lineup. You had Y&R that was gaining, As The World Turns and Guiding Light that were still pretty strong in viewer loyalty.  Not to mention Oprah rounding it all out. Capitol was probably viewed as the most vulnerable in that lineup.

 

Ironically if you look at current times, Capitol would have been the most relevant of all the daytime dramas on network television.

With the number of political dramas after the turn of the century, West Wing, House of Cards, Madam Secretary. Capitol would have definitely been a better fit into the current tv landscape as compared to the 1980s. 

 

To your point of two dozen soaps operas. It's not always a fair comparison. Checking online I see that there were 19 soaps on air (the most) during the 1969-1970 season. At this point, I believe all soaps were 30 minutes and none had transitioned to an hour yet, which would mean that there was about 9.5 hours of soap programming on the networks. If you think about it, as late as 2007 we had 8.5 hours of soap programming on the networks (but only 9 soaps). The expansion of soaps to an hour, did reduce the number of soaps on the air but not necessarily the amount of time soaps took up on the schedule. I'm not sure what year had the most hours of soaps on the networks, it would most likely be the 1969/70 season or later, although I think probably sometime in the mid/late 80s would be the most likely period. 

1 hour ago, soapfan770 said:

Sunset Beach probably would have worked out a lot better had it aired as a prime time series on the WB. Although I think Garth Ancier at the time had just cancelled Savannah over indifference to serialized dramas. I believe Ancier has since changed his mind LOL.

I think had it been done 4 to 5 years earlier it may have worked much better. By 1997, it was a little too late, IMO. SuBe was trying to target the 90210/Melrose crowd which was already waning in the late 90s and soap operas already in the post-OJ aftermath by then. 

Edited by GLATWT88

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9 minutes ago, GLATWT88 said:

I think had it been done 4 to 5 years earlier it may have worked much better. By 1997, it was a little too late, IMO. SuBe was trying to target the 90210/Melrose crowd which was already waning in the late 90s and soap operas already in the post-OJ aftermath by then. 
 

 

Very true. I recall Spelling had even tried something similar to Beach the year before even...Malibu Shores? It aired on Saturday nights so of course it’s target demo probably wasn’t even home. 
 

Maybe if Fox had decided to run a soap in the early 90’s around the time they picked up a lot steam with acquiring the NFL and the New World owned TV stations it could have worked. I don’t recall Beach having any affiliate clearance issues like other soaps may have except for a few markets but I do remember and from what I’ve seen a lot of NBC stations aired Beach in mid or late morning time slots against some pretty stiff competition depending on the market.

 

 @GLATWT88 great assessments they have been on the point BTW.

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4 minutes ago, soapfan770 said:

 

Very true. I recall Spelling had even tried something similar to Beach the year before even...Malibu Shores? It aired on Saturday nights so of course it’s target demo probably wasn’t even home. 
 

Maybe if Fox had decided to run a soap in the early 90’s around the time they picked up a lot steam with acquiring the NFL and the New World owned TV stations it could have worked. I don’t recall Beach having any affiliate clearance issues like other soaps may have except for a few markets but I do remember and from what I’ve seen a lot of NBC stations aired Beach in mid or late morning time slots against some pretty stiff competition depending on the market.

 

 @GLATWT88 great assessments they have been on the point BTW.

Fox did run a soaps in the early 90's it was called Tribes created by Leah Laiman in 1990. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribes_(TV_series)

 

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3 hours ago, GLATWT88 said:

And to add. The new soaps of the 80s and 90s were all meant to attract this ever decreasing 18-49 demo which ultimately alienated a large group of soap viewers. 

 

Great post, @GLATWT88! This part is also true of all of network television. In their desperate desire to attract this group of viewers they alienated everyone else.

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A lot of shows got influenced by Dallas/Dynasty in the 1980s so we started seeing elements that were originally not part of a show's identity, things like wealthy business owning families, oil companies, horse ranches, mothers that abandoned their families to live a jet set life, newly rich widows, foreign divas, luxury penthouses. Also a lot of shows jumped on the action/adventure/supercouple bandwagon in the 1980s and the sci-fi bandwagon in the 1990s when those really didn't suit a lot of show's identities.

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