|Jill Farren Phelps, Charles Pratt Jr.|
The angry fans on Twitter are loud but they're a sliver of the total Y&R audience, which, judging from the ratings, appears to be quite happy, or at least willing to go along for the ride. How do you account for so much upset on social media?In the most recent Live+Same Day Nielsen ratings, Y&R was up 370K viewers since last year.
Phelps: If you've been watching Y&R for years or even decades—40-plus years in the case of some of our viewers—you feel a real sense of ownership. Most will go along for the ride, even when you take a sudden, unexpected right turn. They're happy to do it. But social media has unleashed a lot of people who play "Gotcha!" especially when it comes to the history of Y&R. They want to see us stay within a certain comfort zone, but if we don't take chances, if we don't do things outside that comfort zone, then we're robbing our audience of the opportunity to get excited about the show in a whole new way. We can't become risk averse and afraid of audience reaction. I'm not saying the fans aren't really important or what they think doesn't matter. I'm saying that if we are afraid to do something because of potential blowback then you just get the same old thing you've gotten before.
And this new way of doing things needs to be seismic?
Phelps: Seismic gets attention. Safety gets you nothing.
Pratt: It stirs up the audience and sometimes that negativity is a vote to keep going forward. Yeah, they hate it but they're watching. When I hear that they want the status quo, that they want to see a certain couple stay happy—"We love to see them together, keep it going!"—then I'm thinking, "There go the ratings." Social media is finally giving people a voice, people who have been sitting frustrated in their living rooms, and now they can get it all off their chests, and other people will read it. It attracts a lot of newer viewers. When we do something controversial or take a character to a new, different place, I want to hear from the longtime viewers.
In 1999, Phelps spoke with Soap Opera Digest about the unhappiness many One Life to Live fans felt about the show and her decisions as executive producer, despite the ratings being up. "That’s proof positive that people are watching and even though some of them are a little angry, they care."
Are angry and upset fans a good thing? Sometimes? Always? How do you feel about The Young and the Restless of the Pratt-Phelps so far (his stories began airing in January)? Weigh in below in our Comments section.
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