Soap audiences aging up as overall ratings decline
Posted Monday, March 16, 2015 1:27:39 PM
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Total soap opera viewership numbers continue to head downhill, and the new core audience seems to be over the hill.

The daytime television industry has seen several changes over the past decade, including a significant drop in ratings, the cancellation of several shows, and a bumpy broadcast schedule of the Daytime Emmy Awards. And the next change hitting the industry is a shift in the average viewer age.

Broadcasting & Cable released a report detailing the numbers for the daytime television business, and while the good news is that live broadcast network daytime soap opera overall viewership is cumulatively down only about 3.4% season-to-date, the declines are primarily in the important women 18-49 and women 25-54 demographics, with an influx of older viewers picking up the slack.

The most significant ratings decline is at Days of our Lives, which is down 9% in total viewership and only pulling in 2.45 million viewers. Meanwhile, The Young and the Restless is down 4%, now totaling 4.78 million viewers, and The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital are down 1% in total viewers, pulling in 3.73 and 2.94 million viewers, respectively.

Though the overall numbers aren't exactly shabby, the questionable part is the average of younger viewers. DAYS is down 16% among women 18-49 and 12% among women 25-54, while GH is down a whopping 19% among women 18-49 and 17% among women 25-54. Y&R and B&B are also down in those categories, though not as significantly: Y&R's women 18-49 demographic is down 5%, and for women 18-49 is down 3%, while B&B's women is down only 2% for women 18-49, and is actually up 4% for women 25-54.

Billie Gold, director of TV programming research at Carat, told Broadcast & Cable that while soap opera viewership continues to diminish and the audience is aging up rather than attracting younger viewers, the remaining four soaps have been able to survive the major ratings fallout of the past ten years. "Pretty much the viewers left are those who are loyal to their respective soaps," he says, adding that with the exception of DAYS, soap audiences seem to have mostly stabilized.

And, surprisingly enough, though the categories of advertisers on soap operas is not very diverse, Gold says it's still a very attractive place for packaged good advertisers. "To a company like Procter & Gamble, the soap opera viewers are its core target consumer. Soap opera viewers buy a lot of packaged goods products. To P&G and other packaged goods companies, the soap operas can be more important than primetime TV."

For more information on daytime television ratings and how the numbers impact advertising, check out Broadcasting & Cable's full story here.

What do you think about soap operas steadily losing viewers in the key women 18-49 and women 25-54 demographics? Do you think the remaining four shows should implement storylines that will draw more younger audience members, or do you feel that's part of what got the shows in their ratings decline period to begin with? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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