While the coronavirus pandemic has affected daytime in a multitude of negative ways, including forcing all four daytime dramas to go on unplanned hiatuses, there is a silver lining to the mass stay-at-home orders the pandemic has created: soap opera ratings are rising.
Millions of people are seeking comfort during these trying times, and daytime television fits the bill. So much so, total viewership hasn't just increased for The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of our Lives, General Hospital, and The Young and the Restless -- it has surpassed its previous levels for the entire last year and, in some cases, beyond.
As reported by TV Line, during the week of Monday, March 23, through Friday, March 27 -- when much of the U.S. went into quarantine -- CBS' The Bold and the Beautiful and ABC's General Hospital garnered their biggest audiences in two years. Meanwhile, NBC's Days of our Lives posted its best numbers in more than a year and The Young and the Restless managed an eleven-month high.
B&B saw an audience of 3.66 million viewers -- the show's largest weekly number since the week ending March 23, 2018. Meanwhile, Y&R managed to attract 4.21 million viewers -- the best performance it has seen since the week ending April 26, 2019.
GH drew in 2.57 million viewers, which is the highest total audience number for the ABC soap opera since March 19, 2018. And DAYS won 2.24 million viewers, its highest weekly number since the week ending February 18, 2019.
With the number of people tuning in to the four soaps each week rising, questions are swirling about how the networks will continue to bring audiences new episodes and keep viewers' attention when the shows are on hiatus and unable to produce new content.
As Soap Central previously reported, DAYS is in the best position at the moment, having already created enough new episodes to last until autumn.
Y&R and B&B were four to six weeks ahead when production came to a halt, which gives them material to last until early May. However, both CBS shows will reportedly be peppering their schedules with classic episodes to extend that timeline as much as possible.
Meanwhile, GH had roughly two months of episodes in the can when production was shut down, which takes the ABC soap through the end of May. However, like Y&R and B&B, the ABC drama has decided to air classic episodes once a week to extend the availability of fresh content.
None of the four network soap operas have set a specific timetable for a resumption of production, but TV Line reports that CBS will reevaluate Y&R and B&B's taping statuses in early April.
What do you think about the latest soap opera ratings? How have your soap opera viewing habits changed since the coronavirus pandemic began, if at all? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.