Are Soaps Sliding Away?

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What do these two-word phrases all have in common? Baby switch. DNA results. Cover-up. Murder mystery. Paternity test. Secret affair.

Welcome to the world of the daytime soap opera, a genre that, while once was at the pinnacle of television viewers’ hearts, has fallen dramatically in audience numbers.

These dwindling ratings are due to a variety of changes in the past 50 years. Obviously, in today’s society, women are no longer housewives waiting for their children to come home from school and husbands to come back from work. They are either working or are occupying their day with other active tasks than sitting mindless at the television.

College students decades ago would sit in their student unions all together, watching these shows as a way of escape from tests, papers and other problems. Today, we have Netflix.

Also, primetime dramas now give audiences the opportunity to relish in soap-like stories, leaving the soap opera viewers with something juicy to salivate over other than the daytime shows.

Due to these declining ratings, the networks began opting to feature cheaper content during the daytime hours to save money. For example, a talk show like “The Chew” is cheaper to produce than All My Children, with an overwhelmingly large cast and crew as well as expensive sets.

CBS nixed both Guiding Light and As the World Turns a few years ago, and ABC famously canceled both All My Children (it last aired Sept. 23) and One Life to Live (will last air on ABC in January 2012) last April. Outraged, fans were planning on boycotting ABC

However, fans of the ABC soaps had their wishes come true in July: the company Prospect Park had signed multi-year deals with both soaps from ABC.

The catch? The shows would air only online, on a new website, TheOnlineNetwork.com. The network has reportedly signed deals with fan favorites from One Life to Live including Erika Slezak, who plays Viki, the show’s heroine who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (welcome to daytime).

Prospect Park has halted All My Children’s deal to move online, now only focusing on One Life to Live, which is expected to make its online debut shortly after it finishes on ABC.

So, is the daytime drama dead? Maybe, but it definitely is getting a recharge if this online venture goes through, possibly creating a new trend for the future, one that college students could definitely get into

Check out @soapsindepthabc on Twitter for tons of soap opera updates.

Sophomore > Journalism> University of Maryland

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