Friday, May 27, 2011

More Daytime Turmoil

Okay soap opera fans... get ready for more bad news. Our story has not, nor do we believe it will be, confirmed by anyone at the network. Just a few weeks after ABC stunned viewers by announcing it would cancel daytime mainstays All My Children and One Life to Live, for reality TV programming, our insiders are telling us that the network plans to cut General Hospital from the daytime lineup by the fall of 2012, quite possibly even earlier than this for a talk show hosted by Katie Couric. This information came to us from the same source that gave us the heads up on AMC and OLTL. Essentially, Brian Frons, the head of ABC Daytime is sharpening up the chainsaws and has already called a number of clandestine meetings with his staff to discuss what he calls the network's "next bold innovation" for daytime programming.

Our source has told us that Couric's talks for a new talk show with CBS have come to a grinding halt and she is headed to ABC in a deal that will have the network bean counters shelling out $25 million plus for the soon-to-be former host of the CBS Evening News. It isn't actually much of a shock that The CBS Evening News is becoming more and more of a moot point given the fact that 99% of the audience is pulling news stories up in "real time" either from the Internet or at least 2 cable network news networks which update breaking stories throughout the day. So unless something happens at 6:59 p.m., the nightly news is nothing more than a "recap". The demographic for the CBS Evening News is between 50 and 70 years of age and has continued to erode over the last 5 years. Factor in the massive "Oprah Void" and you have a basic outline as to where ABC is headed with Katie Couric.

Despite ABC's assurances they are not signing a deal with Couric and that General Hospital will be around for "a long time", we're not convinced that this is the case... and with good reason— ABC previously issued the exact same assurances as recently as last year— that both All My Children and One Life to Live were safe from cancellation and we all saw how that turned out. If General Hospital is cancelled that will leave the remaining three daytime serials in a dire situation. We're speculating that CBS will be the next to break out the axe with The Young & The Restless and The Bold & The Beautiful simultaneously being cut from the line-up as both shows feed into one another and it's highly unlikely that CBS will only cancel one of them. This leaves us with NBC and Days of Our Lives. The fact that Days pulls in a younger demographic "may" keep it on life support for a bit longer but with Comcast's recent purchase of NBC/Universal, all bets are off the table.

Make no mistake about it, the daytime landscape continues to wane and we are not at all pleased with the outcome. Daytime Soap Operas have become phenomena; successes overseas and if you add the Internet, there are a TON of options. But we're not dealing with "visionaries". Brian Frons has never been behind the genre and had no intention of saving it. Networks are extremely short-sighted right now. They are not seeing "the big picture" or the endless possibilities still remaining to be explored and utilized by Daytime Soaps. Foreign syndication, especially in Europe and Asia, is a wide open market with more than enough revenues to keep the shows profitable. But the "suits" don't have time to research and understand this uncharted territory. To them, the Earth remains flat.

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