Good news, bad news for CBS soaps
by Allison Waldman, posted Aug 7th 2009 9:02AM
There's good news and bad news on the CBS soap opera front. The good news is that The Young & the Restless has been renewed for two years. The bad news is that As the World Turns could be axed just like Guiding Light.
The Young & the Restless is CBS daytime's top rated soap. It's been number one in the Nielsens for nearly 20 years running. So the renewal wasn't a big surprise. However, the pick-up came with a warning to cut costs, tighten the budget and, basically, don't expect the stars to get big raises anytime soon. In the past year alone, two of the veterans -- Melody Thomas Scott and Jess Walton -- opted to take less money when the show threatened to write them out or recast. Welcome to the brave new world of daytime!
The situation is more dire at As the World Turns. At the CBS media day in L.A., president Nina Tassler was cautious about the future of the last remaining Procter & Gamble soap opera. When asked if ATWT was in a better position than Guiding Light, Tassler said, "It is hard to say. It is one of those things where you watch and you talk. All of daytime is a challenged daypart."
"Challenged dayparts" is a euphemistic way to say that the networks are looking for ways to continue programming in daytime only if it makes money. If turning the time over to local stations is more cost-effective than creating soaps or game shows or whatever, the nets will do it, and we'll be seeing more and more syndicated fare.
I'm a longtime soap fan, so it pains me to see shows like Guiding Light canceled, and now ATWT is on the ropes. Unfortunately, the TV landscape that once made soaps great afternoon entertainment no longer exists. There's too much choice and too much competition for viewers. The networks can squeeze the budgets and downplay the stars, but by doing so, the soaps are changing. Unless someone can figure out a way to reinvent the genre, daytime dramas as we know them are fading away.