Friday, April 6, 2007

Soaps on the Ropes? Broader Impact of Falling Soap Ratings Explored

John Consoli of MediaWeek authors "Soaps on the Ratings Ropes," exploring the changing soap ratings landscape. As a long-time industry watcher, I wish the piece had included some historical context (the advent of alternative cable programming, the year's worth of O.J. trial pre-emptions) that would have been helpful, and explored the highly relevant question of what channels like SoapNet have done for overall ratings (I would be very interested in knowing what GENERAL HOSPITAL's ratings come to when you combine the ABC showing with the ratings for each of the SoapNet repeats), but it does tackle the subject in a balanced way, noting that while soaps may not pull in the viewers they once did, they still are an efficient way to reach a valued audience, and for that reason, still draw advertisers. It's worth a read.

[Editor's Question: The ratings numbers/trends regarding the shows which have benefited from the inclusion of college students are practically the polar opposites from those featured in this Variety story a few weeks ago. If anyone knows the reason for this discrepancy, e-mail me at the address to the left.]

A substantial excerpt of the full article:

Daytime soap operas on the broadcast networks have continued their steady audience decline this year, drawing concern from media buyers who say there are still a large number of clients that want to reach the shows’ largely female viewership. But some nets at least are doing something about it.

While NBC announced earlier this year that after eight years it will pull the plug on PASSIONS this fall, the network will stick with DAYS OF OUR LIVES. And both CBS and ABC insiders say they are committed to keeping their combined seven soaps on the air. But despite the networks’ commitments, the audience shortfalls, combined with advertiser demand, have tightened the avails and driven up prices.

“We always hate paying more for less,” said Andy Donchin, executive vp and director of national broadcast for Carat USA.

“Daytime ratings are bleeding and it’s a problem for advertisers,” added Rino Scanzoni, chief investment officer for GroupM, who said he wants soaps to survive, “It’s an efficient way to reach women, and if they go off the air, I can’t think of any efficient alternatives.”

Donchin agreed. “Even though I am concerned about audience falloff, it hasn’t reached a point where our clients would abandon the daypart,” he said, “The total number of viewers each day is still substantial when compared to alternatives like cable or syndication.”
To read the full article, go here.

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