Friday, November 14, 2008

Soap Opera Digest Cover: Eric Braeden

And now we come to that time of the week where I go off the deep end upon viewing the latest cover of Soap Opera Digest. Yes, it's Eric Braeden from THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS again. Surprised?

"VICTOR'S SHOCKING RETURN!" is the latest headline. This is two week's after "GUESS WHO GETS VICTOR BACK?" and four weeks after "VICTOR'S STUNNING DEMAND!". Victor, Victor, Victor. Is Lynn Leahey obsessed with this man? Does Digest really believe this is the biggest thing happening on soaps next week which needs promoting? Has Newman Enterprises bought Source Interlink Media?

Let me break it down for you. Next week on our beloved soaps there are a number of stories more cover-worthy than yet another Victor Newman headline and face shot. There are also some huge breaking news items. Here are a few:
1) Grant Aleksander is returning to GUIDING LIGHT (where's the picture?)
2) Luke's new grandpa kisses him on AS THE WORLD TURNS (if this isn't shocking and newsworthy, nothing is)
3) Ridge and Brooke reunite on THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (okay, this has happened a million times bebore but still not as much as Eric Braeden appearing on the cover of Soap Opera Digest!).

I hate to beat a dead horse with this, but with daytime ratings in the toilet and subscriptions down, seeing Digest on the newsstand might be the only thing that piques a lapsed fan's interested. And so those people are left with the impression that the only things happening on the soaps these days are the same things that have been going on for decades. How about trying to reel in some new fans or win some old fans back?

And in case someone at Digest hasn't noticed, no soap has lost more viewers than Y&R in the past year (nearly 800,000 viewers since last based based on the Nielsen Ratings for the week ending November 7). Despite the improvement in quality, the ratings are sinking fast so all this promotion isn't helping. Yet THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS has been the main cover or partial cover of Digest in 14 of the past 19 issues (that's 74%). And Eric Braeden has been on the cover seven times (with Victor menioned on an eighth). Digest, it's time to turn your attention to the rest of the soap world for a while.

UPDATE: Below is a message from Soap Opera Digest Editorial Director Lynn Leahey from the latest SOD Insider email.

"You've seen a lot of Y&R's Victor on our Digest covers lately, which has gotten a very positive response so far. That must be because even when he's not on air (as when Eric Braeden took time off recently), Victor is still at the center of the action these days. Now he's returning to Genoa City for Katherine's funeral, and we can expect fireworks ... and forgiveness. Braeden tells Digest in the new issue that he was pleased to see his character embrace certain family members again. 'It was difficult to play Victor being so hard on his family,' Braeden admits. 'I hate that kind of estrangement in real life, so I'm glad he's ready to move forward.' Victor's ready to move forward with son Adam too, but that won't be so pretty. Check out the new issue for details."

UPDATE #2: In looking at all these covers again, it is odd that Eric Braeden's name appears on all his covers (along with the names of the actors in the cover picture with him if there are any). But in all of the non-Braeden cover, the actor's real name is never mentioned.


  1. Another Eric Braeden cover? seriously? come on Lynn get with the program already. There are other soaps, other stories and other actors who should have a chance to be on the cover of this magazine. You hit the nail on the head with y our response here. there is so much happening next week, all of it more cover worthy then Victor's latest return. how many times can one man come back? he's almost as bad as STefano on Days and James on ATWT.

  2. I'm with a Y&R fan...except for that little bit of sophistry. "Y&R has lost the most viewers....promote other shows" (I paraphrase).

    From the premise that there is Victor overkill (I agree...but it MUST be boosting sales, no?)

    - Y&R remains that strongest show by most measures, so boosting it COULD serve to boost the industry "flagship". For example, on weeks where Y&R is down, B&B/ATWT/GL are often down too. So, saving Y&R might save the whole CBS lineup

    - proportionally, all of CBS is in jeopardy, but Y&R is NOT the "biggest loser" when it comes to percentage loss. These numbers are taken from Toups' ratings archive at Soapoperanetwork:

    SHOW, 11/03/08 rating, change since 11/07, 11/07 rating, % change since 07

    Y&R, 4674000, -797000, 5471000, -15%
    B&B, 3379000, -489000, 3868000, -13
    GH, 2895000, -248000, 3143000, -8%
    OLTL, 2693000, 34000, 2659000, +1%
    DAYS, 2686000, 143000, 2543000, +6%
    AMC, 2664000, 184000, 2480000, +7%
    ATWT, 2551000, -419000, 2970000, -14%
    GL, 2065000, -505000, 2570000, -20%

    - From these numbers, GL is in "death trajectory", and GH is not statistically different from Y&R.

    - If we're going to make these judgments based on numbers, we probably have to look at "volatility". Y&R is also more VOLATILE than the other shows, showing more week-to-week variation. So, not all weeks look this bad :-).

    None of this takes away from your point! I agree that Y&R is getting too much cover time, and that SOD is failing to represent the genre as a whole!

    But the argument for SOD to do differently should be conceptual...not on the basis of numbers. Y&R is the strongest show creatively, budgetarily, and in absolute numbers.

    My guess is that SourceInterlink would reply that "these covers ARE based on numbers...what sells".

    If that is true, how do we deal with it? Just like Soapnet can't afford to show soaps because the financials don't support it...apparently SOD has revealed that the financials now require Victor covers. If that is true...if they don't sell as many issues when other soaps are on the cover, what can we do about that??

  3. Mark, great points. My issue is always - how do they know something else won't sell as much or MORE if they don't try? I have heard for years that only certain shows sell, but that can't be based on recent data but in recent years most soaps haven't been given enough covers to truly measure. Luke and Noah were international news this past year but not even an inset picture on SOD. Are they afraid of scaring away readers? How about Lucci? I'm surprised there wasn't a Lucci-Dancing With The Stars cover to take advantage of that potential synergy.

    I'm sure SOD/Source Interlink feel they are doing what they need to do to maintain sales levels, but as with the soaps themselves, I would like to see a few more chances taken to try and improve the overall quality. And not just with the cover, but the entire content of the magazine.

  4. Dear Lynn Leahy

    Did you ever stop to think that one reason your gossip rag has declining readers is because of Eric Braeden on the cover every other week?

    Someone who watches OLTL might buy a copy of they see a cover featuring their show.

    A little sense goes a long way. Keep fooling yourself right out of a job and--what was--a great magazine.

  5. So Digest's business model is based on one soap opera character. haha