A Surprising Plot Twist: Daytime soaps have audiences that rival (and often beat) primetime on network television

A Surprising Plot Twist: Daytime soaps have audiences that rival (and often beat) primetime on network television

Ever wonder how well the four daytime dramas would fare when compared to primetime? If you are curious then this nerd has something for you! Here is a chart of the 72 first-run dramas, comedies, news magazines, and reality programs on the five major networks plus the four daytime dramas. The results may surprise you- and make you wonder why soap operas have such a bad reputation as losers in the ratings.

How The Soaps Stack Up

While none of the four soaps would rank in the top 20, or even the top 30 in total viewers, it helps to think about things in a broader sense. A lot more viewers are tuning in to television in the evening compared to the afternoon. And a lot fewer people watch traditional network television on the day it airs. It’s much more likely a viewer will be watching a series that airs once a week in primetime the old-fashioned way than carving out an hour in the afternoon every day five times a week to watch a series. All four soaps rank pretty well all things considered.

#SeriesNetworkViewers (in millions)% vs Last Year
160 MinutesCBS9.5871.05%
2NCISCBS7.954-16.08%
3The EqualizerCBS7.59-13.62%
4Chicago FireNBC7.2831.20%
5The Voice (Tues)NBC7.058-3.92%
6The Voice (Mon)NBC6.987-4.71%
7FBICBS6.987-10.77%
8Chicago MedNBC6.85-6.18%
9Young Sheldon CBS6.671-7.57%
10Blue BloodsCBS6.076-5.79%
11FBI: InternationalCBS6.046
12Chicago PDNBC6.013-1.24%
13FBI: Most WantedCBS5.9934.06%
14Survivor (Fall)CBS5.849-8.95%
15NCIS: Los AngelesCBS5.751.52%
16NCIS: Hawai’iCBS5.661
17La BreaNBC5.407
18GhostsCBS5.377
19The NeighborhoodCBS5.376-3.15%
209-1-1FOX5.26-18.82%
21Bob ❤ AbisholaCBS5.2581.49%
22Magnum PICBS5.216-6.75%
23Dancing with the StarsABC4.839-21.83%
24SWATCBS4.83352.79%
25United States of AlCBS4.59-1.61%
26Law & Order: SVU NBC4.5876.32%
27The Masked SingerFOX4.567-31.18%
28Station 19ABC4.567-11.90%
29America’s Fun. Home VideosABC4.357-11.65%
30Grey’s AnatomyABC4.193-18.85%
31Celebrity Wheel of FortuneABC4.106-37.00%
32BullCBS3.943-21.85%
33CSI: VegasCBS3.859
34B PositiveCBS3.854-17.30%
35The Good DoctorABC3.82-7.94%
36Law & Order: Organized CrimeNBC3.66-23.39%
37Shark TankABC3.617-13.20%
38Young and The RestlessCBS3.5789.64%
39SEAL Team CBS3.562-9.31%
40The ConnersABC3.431-6.34%
41New Amsterdam NBC3.374-6.80%
42The GoldbergsABC3.232-7.17%
43The BlacklistNBC3.105-4.87%
44The ResidentFOX3.066-12.74%
45The BacheloretteABC3.003-17.97%
46Bold and the BeautifulCBS2.9343.74%
47Tough As Nails CBS2.931-8.28%
48The RookieABC2.909-22.05%
49Ordinary JoeNBC2.906
50Dateline NBC (Fri)NBC2.8971.76%
51Big SkyABC2.885-17.90%
5220/20ABC2.784-8.11%
5348 HoursCBS2.636-6.64%
54The Wonder YearsABC2.632
55Supermarket SweepABC2.482-22.14%
56The SimpsonsFOX2.44820.45%
57Alter EgoFOX2.43
58General HospitalABC2.2536.26%
59Home EconomicsABC1.998-22.07%
60A Million Little ThingsABC1.947-28.36%
61QueensABC1.751
62Our Kind of PeopleFOX1.47
63Days of Our LivesNBC1.612-4.94%
64Family Guy FOX1.452-5.21%
65The Great North FOX1.409-10.28%
66Home Sweet HomeNBC1.399
67Bob’s BurgersFOX1.3776.18%
68The Big LeapFOX1.332
69Penn & Teller: Fool UsCW0.678-17.04%
70Whose Line Is It Anyway?CW0.567-33.89%
71DC’s Legends of TomorrowCW0.55332.93%
72World’s Funniest AnimalsCW0.524-26.89%
73BatwomanCW0.478-3.43%
74Nancy DrewCW0.36-22.82%
75LegaciesCW0.332-38.97%
76Legends of the Hidden TempleCW0.259
Special thank you to, Soap Opera Network, an amazing great resource for soap opera ratings data- and soap opera news of all kinds.

CBS’s Young & The Restless ranks at #38 despite airing at 12:30 PM with only a local news lead-in. The soap beats the network’s drama ‘Seal Team’ by 16,000 on average so far this season. What decades old franchise does the soap outperform? Scroll down to find out.

Fellow CBS soap, Bold & The Beautiful ranks at number 46, better than long running news programs ‘20/20’ and ’48 Hours’. What new series does the half hour soap beat? Find out below.

General Hospital ranks father down at 58th. But the the longest running series on television beats the next highest rated show, fellow ABC series, ‘Home Economics’ by 255,000 viewers. Guess what hit drama on its network it beats? Keep reading.

Days Of Our Lives ranks last in daytime and 63rd up against all of primetime. Keep reading to find out how many CW dramas it take combined to beat the NBC soap opera.

Young & The Restless Arresting More Viewers Than Law & Order: Organized Crime, Bold & The Beautiful is Tougher than Nails

Y&R ranks at number 38, just a few spots ahead of B&B at number 46. GH and DAYS are down a bit further at 58 and 63 respectively. While none would rank in the Both CBS series are up from last season which is always a positive. Of the 72 primetime series on the chart, 13 are brand new series. Only five of those series rank higher than Y&R and B&B. GH outranks five of those series and DAYS is ahead of three of these series. There are only 14 series on the chart that are up from last season’s final average and three of them are Y&R, GH, and B&B. Of those series showing an increase, Y&R ranks as having the 3rd biggest percentage increase, GH has the 6th biggest increase and B&B has the 8th biggest increase. Even DAYS performed well compared to last year percentage-wise, ranking 22nd of the 59 returning series.

Y&R is just below Law & Order: Organized Crime which is currently in its second season. The NBC drama is a spinoff of the show it airs directly behind, Law & Order: SVU which ranks at number 26 and is up 6.32 percent year to year. Y&R can average 3.578 million viewers with a local news lead-in at 12:30 in the afternoon while the spinoff of the longest-running primetime drama, starring one of the franchise’s biggest stars on NBC’s once-legendary Thursday night lineup only averaged 3.66 million viewers.

B&B is just behind The Bachelorette, one of ABC’s most recognizable series, also a spin-off of a well-known franchise. The ABC reality show is averaging 3.003 million viewers compared to the 2.934 viewers who watch B&B. The CBS soap is also ahead of the fourth season of Survivor spin-off, Tough As Nails, which pulls in roughly 2.931 million viewers. It’s pretty impressive that B&B is on par with two spin-offs of legendary reality series.

General Hospital & Days of Our Lives Beat Some of FOX’s Biggest Hits and Everything on the CW

While GH isn’t too far ahead of DAYS at 58th, it is only a few hundred thousand viewers behind the heavily promoted reboot of the Wonder Years at number 54. As the longest-running soap opera and actually the longest-running series on television, GH is in good company near the longest-running comedy on television. The Simpsons are at number 54 season to date with 2.448 million viewers. GH also beats out three high-profile series on ABC: second-year sitcom Home Economics, four-year-old Million Little Things, and most surprisingly the heavily promoted premiere of Queens.

DAYS ranks at number 63 out of 76 primetime programs. While that sounds a lot worse than ranking 4th place, the NBC soap isn’t exactly surrounded by nobodies on the chart. As with the other three soaps, DAYS is ranked higher than every series on the CW. This isn’t exactly an achievement since no CW show ranks higher than Penn & Teller at number 69 with just 678,000 viewers. In fact, DAYS’ audience in the middle of the afternoon is comparable to all four of CW’s current dramas combined. Those four dramas: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow 553,000 viewers, Batwoman with 478,000 viewers, followed by Nancy Drew with 360,000, and Legacies with 332,000 viewers comes out to 1.7 million viewers compared to DAYS 1.612 million.

Even more impressive, DAYS is higher rated than the four series that air on FOX. While it’s not too big of a deal for the soap opera to rank above a new series like The Big Leap, it is a big deal to perform better than a returning series like the animated comedy The Big North. But who could have guessed that a revisiting of Marlena’s demonic possession storyline from 25 years ago would be seen regularly by more viewers than fresh episodes of FOX icons like Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers?

Special thank you to, Soap Opera Network, an amazing great resource for soap opera ratings data- and soap opera news of all kinds.

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