As Days of our Lives marks its 45th anniversary on November 8, there's even more reason to celebrate: the show will continue to air on NBC through at least September 2013.
While television industry experts continue to prophesy the death of the daytime drama series, the two-year commitment is seen as a huge demonstration of support for NBC's sole remaining soap opera.
The official announcement of NBC's decision to renew Days of our Lives was made by DAYS' executive producer Ken Corday during a party at the House of Blues in Los Angeles feting the show's milestone anniversary.
"With great joy, I am pleased to announce the best news any soap opera could receive. Days of our Lives has been picked up through September of 2013," said Ken Corday, executive producer of DAYS. "We extend our greatest gratitude to NBC for blessing us with the gift of such an amazing commitment."
"Days of our Lives remains vitally creative through the years as it continues to draw new generations of viewers, especially among its loyal female audience," Jeff Gaspin, Chairman, NBC Universal Television Entertainment, said. "NBC salutes the series on its 45th anniversary and we look forward with great anticipation to working with the production team for the years to come."
"This important and enduring series is an iconic part of NBC's history as well as that of daytime drama," said Bruce Evans, Senior Vice President, Current Programming, NBC Entertainment. "The creative team, cast and crew work hard each day to ensure that DAYS continues to remain fresh and relevant to its legions of devoted fans across the country."
"We continue to be big believers in the serialized daytime drama and we're thrilled that our great partners at NBC have renewed Days of our Lives," said Steve Mosko, president, Sony Pictures Television. "An iconic global brand, DAYS entertains millions of loyal, engaged viewers, on television and online, in the US and around the world."
"Just home from the Days of our Lives party at House of Blues and it was fabulous seeing so many old —- and some new —- friends," former DAYS head writer Sheri Anderson said on Facebook. "The show's been renewed for another two years which is fantastic! Special kudos to Gary Tomlin and Dena [Higley] for managing to keep it alive. We should all be grateful."
It wasn't that long ago that a 45th anniversary looked like an unlikely celebration.
Fans may well remember a 2007 announcement by then-NBC Universal Television president Jeff Zucker stating that Days of Our Lives was "unlikely to continue [on NBC] past 2009." The following year, NBC did an about-face and confirmed that the show had been given an 18-month renewal. It was a far cry from the five-year renewals that DAYS had been given in the past -- but it was also a much better alternative than cancellation.
At the time of the 2008 renewal, it was also reported that NBC had offered to extend Days of our Lives' contract through September 2011 if "certain parameters on the show" were met. Though those parameters were never revealed publicly, it is widely believed that the show was told to drastically reduce its operating budget.
For its part, NBC is now aggressively working to sell advertisers on the idea of reaching demographic groups outside the coveted 18 to 49 year-old target audience. A recent reported by the trade publication Mediaweek reveals that viewers over the age of 55 are largely ignored by advertisers, yet that group makes up a sizeable chunk of television viewers -- particularly soap opera viewers.
"Every seven seconds someone turns 55 and once they do, they are eliminated from the highest end Nielsen demo measurement: 25-54," Allen Wurtzel, president of Research and Media Development at NBC Universal, said. "It is the fastest-growing demo group in the country and now numbers 35 million people that account for close to $2 trillion in annual spending."
NBC's new strategy to target other demographic groups changes the network's long-time strategy of only targeting younger viewers.
In related news and another sign of NBC's commitment, Days of our Lives will begin broadcasting in high-definition on November 8.