Deep Dive into Jason Morgan’s Impact on The Ratings Part One.
Check out last week’s ratings in total viewers here. You can see all four soaps ratings for every episode including Young & The Restless, Bold & The Beautiful and Days of Our Lives as well.
Burton’s exit comes as co-star, Ingo Rademacher, was fired earlier this month
Nobody can deny that Steve Burton has had an impact on General Hospital. When writers turned the role of Jason Quartermaine from sweet and caring (but kind of boring) medical student to sullen, detached and deadly Jason Morgan, the actor rose to the challenge. Burton’s revamped Jason ushered in a new era for the ABC soap opera- one that had a polarizing effect on critics and fans alike.
Now with the actor’s rumored exit all but confirmed as fact at this point- and the recent firing of Ingo Rademacher due to the vaccine mandate- vocal fans have claimed that they will never watch again. Burton and Rademacher are both bog parts of the show’s history and they have a strong fan base. The question for the nework: will these firings have an impact on the soap opera’s ratings? Will the network see a bigger decline because of the nature of these actors’ exits? Will these exits be permanent?
Although Burton has left before, he’s appeared in more episodes than any other actor over the years
That last point is very key: both of these actors have exited the series before, only to return again. Ingo Rademacher has been much less central to the series over the years. And has been a regular cast member on-and-off since 1996 but was more off than on the show over the past 10 years. GH’s audience has shown it can handle their weekdays without Jasper ”Jax” Jacks.
But GH without Steve Burton as Jason Morgan? The actor first exited in 2000 after a nine year run. The actor returned for a guest appearance for a few months in 2001 but permanently returned the following year. Over the next ten years, nobody appeared in more episodes than Steve Burton. The actor left in 2012 before returning in 2017. What impact did it have in the ratings? Let’s take a deep dive into the total audience of GH viewers over the the last 20 years.
Steve Burton was featured during what was a period of audience decline for the soap opera.
The series had just let actress Vanessa Marcil go in early 2003, to the shock of fans and the industry. The actress’ brief return helped increase ‘GH’’s audience, which had been in a decline for the previous few years by a substantial amount. In fact, the week that her character, Brenda, exited the series in February 2003 pulled in 5.3 million viewers, the biggest audience the soap had seen since 2000. However, after Marcil’ss exit the soap’s ratings came back down to earth. The full season average for GH in 2002-2003 was only even to the previous.
From that point, ‘General Hospital’ was kind of the “Jason Morgan Show”. The action primarily centered on Jason’s violent exploits as enforcer for Sonny Corinthos, his complex relationship with Carly Corinthos and with the addition of Kelly Monaco as his love interest in late 2003, also gave him a consistent romantic partner in Sam McCall. The four characters dominated most episodes and the executives at ABC encouraged the direction of the show. But by of the fall of 2006, GH averaged just 3.39 million viewers- a loss of almost million viewers, nearly a quarter of its audience in just three years.
In 2006, ABC capitalized on the return of Genie Francis as Laura Spencer for the celebration of Luke and Laura’s 25th wedding anniversary. Ratings improved but not nearly as much as the network anticipated. Still the episode and storyline, which left Jason Morgan on the backburner, improved on the months leading up to the event. Oddly enough, Genie Francis was let go abruptly after helping the network and parent company Disney break records on the 24 hour cable channel SoapNet.
MetroCourt Crisis Sends Ratings Up…Temporarily
The good news continued for ABC through early 2007, when GH broke convention with a storyline never before attempted in daytime. The February Sweeps event involving a hostage situation at the Metrocourt hotel took place over the course of four weeks culminating in the hotel’s. While violent action was nothing new for the soap, the story took place in real time with each episode accounting for an hour in the lives of the characters as the events unfolded. The audience and critics, even those who disliked the violent aspect of the story, were literally blown away. In fact, that month marked GH’s most watched month since November of 2003 with over 4 million viewers, peaking with one episode pulling 4.63 million viewers during its final week.
But the network’s successful execution of the storyline was a double edged sword. The entire cast of characters was showcased during the event, with years of storylines coming together in a fashion never before seen in daytime. However, the entire event was taxing on the cast and crew and incredibly expensive. The weeks that followed saw the show slow down and return to the normal pace and focusing on Jason Morgan and his immediate circle.
Despite the increased ratings brought by Luke and Laura’s 25th Anniversary in November and the Crisis at the Metrocourt, GH ended the 2006 to 2007 season with only 60,000 more viewers than the season before. The soap opera was down 20 percent over the course of five years. Despite the decline, the show’s producers remained committed to featuring Jason Morgan at the center of the series, along with Sam, Carly an Sonny.
Take a look at the full chart below. You can see ratings took another turn. Want to find out what happened? Check out part 2 coming later this week.
The Past Twenty Years of ‘General Hospital’ In Total Viewers:
All raw data is derived from Soap Opera Network’s infinitely useful resources. Check the site out, here.
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