Friday, April 3, 2009

TV Guide Canada's "Suds Report"

In his weekly "Suds Report" column for TV Guide Canada, Nelson Branco covers the following headlines and more:

- ATWT: Axed next?

- Sabotage at ABC and CBS?

- ONE LIFE cleans house!

- Insiders' GL reactions!

- GH's Hearst and Ward out!

- Finally, the truth: Why Bob Guza is safe on GH!

- Hallelujah: Jess Walton re-signs!

From Emmy winner Sally Sussman Morina, GENERATIONS creator:

When CBS announced the cancellation of GUIDING LIGHT, no one thought it was an April Fool’s joke despite the cruel irony of the timing. Rumors of the show’s demise have dogged it for years and finally, CBS pulled the plug and put the show out of its misery. GUIDING LIGHT will now join the ranks of other venerable institutions that have fallen by the wayside lately; the big city newspaper and the U.S. auto industry. But despite the setbacks and financial problems, these institutions share a unique place in the fabric of American life and are not replaceable.

Even though the current model for newspapers is failing, people have an insatiable appetite for news. They just want it instantly, not the next morning. So the newspapers that migrate successfully to the internet may find a whole new national and international audience that will far exceed their current circulation because of their brand names like the Chicago Sun-Times or the Miami Herald. These brands are recognizable and have credibility, something the upstarts can only hope to achieve. Brand identity takes years to cultivate and its value is priceless.

Whatever form General Motors and Chrysler finally morph into, it will surely be with those brands which are their most trusted and successful ones. Everyone knows what the Cadillac or Buick brands stand for and they will always have an edge over a new, untested foreign one.

The same can be said for GUIDING LIGHT, a brand that’s been part of the American consciousness for seventy-two years. It’s no accident that as it transitioned from radio to television the name stayed the same. Even without a presence on the CBS network, GUIDING LIGHT doesn’t have to fade into darkness. Surely, Procter & Gamble knows the value of their brand which is why they must pursue any avenue to keep the show going. The network ratings may have been low but grabbing two million eyeballs each week is no small feat.

Twenty years ago I created GENERATIONS for NBC, a soap heralded as groundbreaking when it premiered yet it only lasted two years. We would’ve killed to have had half the success of GUIDING LIGHT, even a tenth of it. So while we all deride the way Nielsen under represents and reports the daytime audience, the ratings are only one measure of a show’s impact. Generations of viewers have grown up with GUIDING LIGHT and its Guinness Record as the longest running drama series is unlikely to ever be broken.

So while fans mourn the loss of their show and perhaps send millions of flashlights to CBS in protest, they should take comfort in the fact that their brand has even more value in today’s scattered media landscape than it has on the network which may cease to exist itself in a few years. As someone who watched over the ending of a show, my advice to the producers and writers of GUIDING LIGHT is to go out with a bang and leave the audience wanting more. You may be seventy-two years old but in the world of new media, your age is invaluable.

1 comment:

  1. I think that ATWT is next if things don't change, namely the writing. Something needs to be done or ATWT will be the next GL.

    I know that things were organized well to bring attention to the Noah/Luke kissing ban on the show... how can fans go about getting a similarly organized campaign to draw attention to what the show is doing wrong and how we want that fixed. At this point, if CG and JP don't want to listen to fans and don't care about turning off those left who watch despite the poor storytelling, then they need to go. Bring in fresh blood.