Latest Soap Ratings Spec: Will Soccer Shake Up the Ratings Race? Plus, a Look At The Few Times The status Quo Changed in total Viewers
If you follow the soap opera industry like I do, you probably know that the four remaining soaps are almost permanently glued to their ranking in total viewers. CBS holds the top two spots with ‘Y&R’ in first place and ‘B&B’ in second, ABC’s ‘General Hospital’ is third and ‘Days of Our Lives’ on NBC holds onto fourth place. But thanks to a scheduling decision sure to infuriate CBS soap fans, ‘GH’ could very will end up in first place. Due to coverage of soccer, both Y&R and B&B will see their schedules impacted in much of the country- some areas won’t air episodes at all. In the meantime, lets look at the last times each of the four soaps moved out of there currently positions.
‘Y&R’ has held first place every week since 1988- save for when B&B overtook it in March 2020
‘Young and The Restless’ has been in first in total viewers every every single week since 1988 save for one week in 2020. The reason Y&R ranked second was due to COVID-19 news related preemptions that impacted the hour-long CBS soap opera more than the other three soaps. B&B overtook Y&R on March 16, 2020 with 3.62 million viewers which added up to a 175,000 viewer lead over Y&R’s 3.445 million viewers. The 30-minute B&B, has been in second place every week since 2011, when it fell to third during the final week of All My Children when the cancelled ABC soap pulled in 2.99 million viewers.
B&B last fell to third place when ‘All My Children’ took second place when it aired its final episodes in September 2011
‘GH’ has seen it’s placement fluctuate a but more often, although the vast majority of the past twenty years it has been in third place. ‘GH’ ranked first place during the pandemic for a single week but was only up against repeat episodes of the CBS soaps which doesn’t really count. The last time GH didn’t rank third was when it lost to DAYS in September 2020, when a last minute schedule switch for a rain-delayed baseball game caused havoc with the ABC soap’s schedule. The schedule change left the network airing a new episode a day earlier than scheduled and many viewers had no knowledge of the change.
GH last held second place in March of 2006 and March 2011
While it has been a long time, ‘GH’ has beaten B&B for second place in the past- and without any help from interruptions of any kind. The week in question came about six months before B&B was knocked out of second place by ‘All My Children’ in 2011. The week of March 21-25, 2011, ‘GH’ averaged 2.869 million viewers that week, while B&B averaged 2.819 million viewers. GH’s win came with just a 50,000 viewer lead over the half-hour CBS soap opera. The last time GH ranked second in total viewers was the week of March 21-25, 2005 (exactly six years earlier) in an even tighter race. That week GH pulled in 3.859 million viewers, just 5,000 viewers more than B&B’s 3.854 million viewers.
DAYS last climbed out of fourth place at the beginning of the 2020-2021 season during the aforementioned baseball schedule snafu that impacted GH. ‘DAYS’ moving out of fourth place is far more common than any other shakeups in the rankings. ‘DAYS’ has been able to beat its closest competitor without being aided by preemptions. ‘DAYS’ previously beat ‘GH’ in total viewers the week of September 16-20, 2019 and September 2-6, 2019. Both weeks were normal weeks for the two soaps.In May 2020, GH was able to regain 1st place before it ran out of fresh episodes, when the CBS soaps had already gone on hiatus. Upon its return in July, B&B grabbed 1st place. However, as soon as it returned with new episodes in August of 2020, Y&R has remained in first place.
CBS will air its soaps either streaming-only or overnight multiple times over the next few weeks
This week creates a perfect storm due to some similar circumstances. DAYS has been off the air since February 4th due to the Olympics and returns on Monday 2/21 with new episodes. Starting tomorrow, 2/15 something very bizarre will happen for CBS soap fans. Due to coverage of soccer, both Y&R and B&B will see their schedules impacted in much of the country. Unfortunately, unlike NBC’s decision to simply hold off on new episodes until the games are over, the CBS soaps will air new episodes on those days. On the east coast, episodes should air as they normally would due to the time-difference.
However, in many markets the episodes will be completely preempted during the day and will air overnight in those cities. In many markets, the soaps won’t even air at all! This puts CBS at a severe disadvantage for the next couple weeks since some stations will not air the episodes at all and the ratings for the overnight airings of the soaps will be significantly lower. While viewers can catch the episodes streaming on Paramount Plus and CBS.com, those viewers aren’t counted in the Live Plus Same Day ratings.
Viewers will be confused, but will it help ABC and NBC?
Adding to the confusion, the preemptions will not be on consecutive days, but occur on Tuesdays and Wednesdays beginning February 15 and 16, February 22-23 and March 8-9. GH will be the only soap opera airing without issue this week. The absence of competition could benefit GH, especially this week as storylines appear to be heating up. The likelhood of GH taking first or second place is small but not impossible. CBS soaps have a larger share of viewers that exclusively watch the shows “live” during their scheduled timeslots than their peers. These viewers are also among the oldest in daytime and use non-traditional methods of viewing television at a lower rate. These viewers are far less likely to pull an all-nighter to watch the soaps on their local television stations. There is also the danger of breaking long-held viewer habits.
Both CBS soaps saw their audiences impacted the most by the hiatus during the summer of 2020, which kept three of the four soaps off the air for months. While GH may benefit from being the sole soap, its unlikely to steal viewers from CBS or NBC, at least if history is any indication. During the shut-down, DAYS continued to air new episodes uninterrupted and the number of viewers actually fell during that time. What do you think? Will GH or even DAYS benefit from CBS soaps being preempted by soccer? Could GH even take first place? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.