Two weeks into the 2021-22 season, the soaps aren’t just surviving but thriving!

Every soap opera had something to celebrate this week with more than enough positive news to go around. Any drops this week were minimal and evened out by increases in at least one of the demo ratings that the networks find most valuable. Compared to last year, every soap except for Days of our Lives saw increases in viewers. Still, none of them stuck out like General Hospital, which was impacted last year by baseball preemptions that turned into a scheduling debacle- more on that in a bit. But first, lets take a look at the CBS soaps.

‘Young and Restless’? More like Old and Faithful’?

Young and the Restless was number one again- I don’t know if I will ever go a week without saying that phrase as long as the soap is on the air. Y&R pulled in 3.487 million viewers matching last week’s performance, and was the only soap opera not to lose viewers from the previous week. The hour-long CBS soap was up 448,000 viewers from last year’s 3.039 million- an increase of 15%. Two weeks into the season, Y&R is averaging 3.487 million viewers and is up 494,000 from the same point last year, up 17%. Y&R finished the 2020-21 season with 3.264 million viewers.

Y&R took the top spot in both the women 18-49 and 25-54 demographics, increasing five percent in both categories. In women 18-49, the series managed a .42 rating compared to last week’s .40 and a .66 to last week’s .63 in women 25-54. Compared to the previous year, Y&R was down 4 percent in women 25-54 and matched the 5 percent increase from last week in women 18-49. So far this season, Y&R is averaging a .41 and .65 in the two categories.

How Y&R remains such a dominant force with the least amount of buzz of any of the four soaps is beyond me. From what I can gather, the audience isn’t exactly thrilled with anything involving Ashland and the Stitch kidnapping plot was poorly received. Having bounced back from last summer’s catastrophic ratings drop, with viewers returning to their old routines, is Y&R simply the beneficiary of lunch hour rituals of dedicated viewers? Is Y&R the poster child for habit viewing for the sake of convenience and nothing else? Is the secret to success simply being on at the right time for the longest time on a network everybody is familiar with? Any thoughts?

Steffy 2.0 Versus Old School Sheila pays off for B&B

Y&R’s sister soap, Bold and the Beautiful, had a good week as well, dipping just 8,000 viewers from last week to 2.902 million viewers. B&B was up 5 percent from last year’s 2.758, adding 144,000 viewers to its audience. The half-hour soap opera is averaging 2.906 million viewers season to date compared to the previous year’s 2.706 million, an increase of 7 percent. B&B is also ahead of the final 2020-21 season average of 2.829 million viewers by 3 percent.

B&B performed best this week among women 18-49, matching last year’s number with a .38 rating, up .02 from last week’s .36 and enough to hold onto second place. The series also saw an increase in women 25-54 week to week, jumping 7% from a .57 to a .61 rating. Despite the rise, B&B was down 10 percent in the demographic from last year when it almost took the top spot from Y&R with a .69 rating. Season to date, B&B is averaging a .37 in women 18-49, virtually tied with the .375 from last season at this point, which would round up to a.38 rating. Compared to the previous year’s .64 rating, B&B is down 8 percent in the women 25-53 demographic to a .59 rating. Looking at all of last season, B&B is holding up pretty well. B&B is performing in-line with the just completed 2020-21 season’s final average .38 average in women 18-49 but is down 5 percent in women 25-54.

While B&B may appear to be having only mild success compared to its peers, the youngest soap opera on the air is the most consistent. If you look back a decade, B&B is actually up compared to its opening weeks of the 2011 season. No other soap opera can claim that- not even close. In the same amount of time its lead-in lost more than a million viewers. A decade ago B&B was a very different soap opera, but the changing of the guard has been and continues to be well received. The current storyline of Steffy facing off with her grandmother’s arch enemy Sheila Carter, who just so happens to be the grandmother of Steffy’s baby is just perfectly soap opera- no matter how poorly executed, this story will pay off for both viewers and in the ratings.

GH’s Gets Viewers So Mad The Can’t Look Away

General Hospital was cursed this week last year by baseball scheduling run amuck. GH was scheduled to air just two episodes that week, one on Monday and the other on Friday to accomodate the playoffs that week. Unfortunately, a rain delay on Thursday meant Friday’s episode would have to be preempted instead. ABC was left with the unenviable decision of airing a rerun or an unannounced episode that few regular viewers knew was on. Even DVR recorders were unaware of the last-minute schedule change, resulting in a record-low audience of 1.665 million viewers.

This week GH was up 37 percent from last year to 2.276 milllion viewers and tied for the third most-watched episode since April of 2020. This week ranks behind only the past two weeks. Week to week, GH dipped 136,000 viewers for a 6 percent drop. Season to date, GH is averaging 2.344, up 26 percent from the 1.856 million viewers it averaged through the first two weeks of the 2020-21 season. GH is experiencing its highest-rated start to a season since 2017. Compared to the final average of 2.12 million viewers for the 2020-21 season, GH is up by 232,000 viewers and 11 percent.

In the demographic numbers, the ABC soap opera performed even better than last week. GH scored a .38 rating in women 18-49, up 9 percent from last week and enough to tie B&B for number two. In women 25-54, GH dipped 3 percent to a .60 and back to third place after passing B&B in the category last week. GH blew past last year’s depressed levels by over 30 percent in both categories. Two weeks into the season, GH is averaging a .37 in women 18-49 and a .61 in women 25-54, both of which are ahead of the final numbers from the 2020-21 season by 6 and 7 percent, respectively.

While fans are definitely polarized over the current direction of the soap’s storylines, GH is definitely the most talked about soap on the air. While much of the conversation may seem negative and some criticism does have merit, GH has seen its numbers rise to some of its strongest numbers in years. With the complications of Sonny’s time in Nixon Falls with Nina set to explode in a more satisfying manner in the coming weeks the numbers are likely to stay that way. With a Cassidine plot involving Drew Cain, Anna seeking to save Valentin, Robert possibly finding out that Holly is alive, the Nurse’s Ball, the Spencer/Trina/Esme/Joss/Cameron storyline finally taking off, Shawn and Alexis’ continued investigation into Hayden’s shooting, Maxie and Austin’s possible romance directly colliding with her baby switch pact with Brooklynn/Austin’s ELQ takeover/Leo’s diagnosis with autism and of course, the annual ratings boost provided by Genie Francis’ return to the soap the ratings look to outperform last fall. But that’s just my opinion.

Will Older Viewers Abandon DAYS During Doug and Marlena’s Dance with the Devil?

Now I have been stating over and over how little Days of our Lives’ numbers matter compared to its performance on Peacock. Weeks like this are why I hope I am correct. Although fans can rest easy knowing DAYS is safe for the next two years, the NBC soap dropped to 1.555 million viewers, its lowest audience since July and the 4th lowest week in the show’s history. DAYS was down 8 percent from last week’s 1.697 million viewers and 13 percent from last year’s 1.781 million viewers. Two weeks into the season, DAYS is averaging 1.626 million viewers compared to 1.752 million, a decline of 7 percent from the opening weeks of 2020-21.

The NBC soap’s performance in the demographics actually improved from last week, with DAYS pulling in a .28 rating in women 18-49. This marked a 12 percent increase versus the .25 from last week. In women 25-54, DAYS was up to a .39 rating from last week’s .37, up 5 percent. Compared to the same week last year, DAYS dropped 18 percent from a .34 rating in women 18-49 and fell even harder in women 25-54 where it dropped 23 percent from a .51 rating. Compared to the first two weeks of last season, DAYS is down 20 percent in women 18-49 and 24 percent in women 25-54. Looking at the entire 2020-21 season, DAYS is down 13% from the .30 rating in averaged in women 18-49 and down 16% to a .38 in women 25-54.

I still stand behind the fact that DAYS’ numbers on Peacock have to be huge and that the soap has a bright future. But I am wondering if the devil storyline is already polarizing the audience. Younger viewers, already shifting to streaming services in droves appear to be responding to the storyline in a positive manner. This week’s numbers prove that. However, the decline in overall audience might be a sign that older viewers are turned off- especially in a week where a posessed Marlena struck Julie. The last time the devil came to Salem, the audience was polarized but the influx of newer and younger viewers sent DAYS from 8th place to 2nd place. That is less likely to occurr in this age of television but could very well position DAYS as a dominant force when streaming is the only game in town.

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