In the Jan. 8, 2010 issue of Entertainment Weekly, Lynette Ryce takes a look at the state of the daytime soap industry. Here's an excerpt:
"It's been a stagnant business for a long time," admits ABC head of daytime Brian Frons. "Just like in any business, the strong will survive and the weak will fall away."
"Daytime soaps may be nearing their end," predicts Dr. Paul Levinson, a TV expert and professor at Fordham University. "The lifestyles of the 21st century do not cater to sitting down every day at the same time to watch a soap." Adds Shari Anne Brill, director of strategic audience analysis at media-buying firm Carat: "Because the audiences for soaps are getting older and less desirable to advertisers, it is not longer cost effective for networks to produce them...when there are cheaper alternatives, like turning the time back to the affiliates."
Veterans like THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL exec producer Bradley Bell prefers rich stories and smaller budgets to stunt casting. "We have to go back and produce these shows on a shoestring budget, which is how they began," says Bell, whose soap has a safety net of selling well overseas. NBC co-chairman Marc Graboff agrees. "When you force budget cuts, you force creative decisions that are good for the show." But even he's tongue-tied when it comes to predicting the long-term health of the genre - especially since soap ratings have been in decline since the early '90s. "It's hard to say how long it will stay," he admits. "Just when you write a genre off, it can come back." True - if soaps have shown us anything, it's that anyone can return from the dead.