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December 10, 2009

Will Daytime Soap Operas Soon Be a Thing of the Past?

As_The_World_Turns_2009_logo CBS announced today that it is cancelling the long running daytime soap opera, As the World Turns, after 54 years. There will now only be six daytime soaps left on the air. Procter & Gamble, the company that owned As the World Turns and gave soap operas their name, will now be completely out of the soap opera business. How long will it be before soap operas go the way of silent films and typewriters?

Although the only daytime soap opera that I have ever watched, One Life to Live, is still on the air, it makes me sad to see this genre hanging on by a thread. I would have thought that video recorders and then DVRs would boost ratings of soaps because now one doesn't have to be home during the daytime to watch them. While this might be true for fans that were already watching, it turns out that new viewers have became rare.

I began watching One Life to Live when I was only 12 years old. I watched it on and off until I got my first VCR, and have been a regular viewer since. However, looking back, if I had video games, computers and cell phones back then, I probably never would have starting watching daytime television. My generation also didn't take part in nearly as many after school activities as teens today, so I was typically home from school by the time many soaps aired.

Without a new generation of viewers, the soap opera audience will eventually die out. However, they will most likely all be cancelled way before that happens. In some ways I will probably be happy when One Life to Live ends. I will finally be rid of it. But then again, after watching it for 40 years, I know these characters longer than most of my friends. It will be strange not to see their lives progress any further.

Television decisions, as in most forms of entertainment, are based on money. Since soap operas cost much more to make than game shows, the game shows are taking over. This is similar to what is happening on prime time television with scripted and reality shows. Will scripted shows with real actors, day or night, eventually become extinct because of the expense? I certainly hope not.

This is an original 50-Something Moms Blog post.