The Longevity of Soaps

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The staying power of soaps & Daytime dollars

Soapdom's Linda Marshall-SmithGet acquainted with and our Inside the Bubble features at New to Soapdom. Those who were registered before are registered at but some privileges may have changed. Check what FREE registration means at in the New to Soapdom section.It's our pleasure to take you way, way down inside the bubble at Where soap operas rule!

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Hi Suds Buds:

Let me begin by saying that this column is getting online a tad later in the day on Monday, March 31 than usual.  With all the wonderful soap stuff going on this week -- press day at the ProCelebrity Toyota Race, NBC/Telemuendo Fan Fest, SOAPNet Presents the Soap Opera Digest Awards, GH 40th Anniversary, all the breaking news regarding actors and events, and some additional new content sections coming to -- I just haven’t been able to focus on writing this column until now (which is about 3 PM LA time.)  Regardless of what time a day on Mondays that Top of the Week makes it online; know that it will always be online sometime on Monday. 

FYI, Soapdom uploads content on an approximate schedule as follows:

Please keep in mind that Soapdom, Inc.’s offices are on the west coast of the US, so we start our day 3 hours later than the east coast.  Now, on with the soaps!

Did you ever stop and think how many man-hours have gone into the production of soap operas over the years?  This week, General Hospital celebrates its 40th anniversary.  That’s 40 years, times five days a week, times 52 weeks a year equals 10,400 episodes! Wow.  That’s 10,400 scripts.  10,400 days of production.  10,400 days of acting.  

Guiding Light is over 65 years old – including it’s origins in radio!  All My Children celebrated 33 years in January, 2003. 

A few days ago, Y&R celebrated its 30th anniversary.  In fact, the Hollywood Reporter, the entertainment industry trade publication, devoted an entire issue to The Young & the Restless’ 30th Anniversary.  Ads of congratulations were purchased by everyone from Sony Studios, the CBS Network and Y&R’s neighbors across the hall, The Bold and the Beautiful, to Y&R actors Don Diamont (Brad), Lauren Woodland (Brittany), Jeanne Cooper (Katherine) and Kate Linder (Esther). 

Why have soaps become such a mainstay?  What makes soap operas such a staple of our daily lives?  There are a number of contributing factors.  First of all, we continue to tune in day after day, year after year for ten, twenty, thirty, forty, sixty-five years.  We rarely, if ever, tire of the same characters, the same recycled stories, the same clichés – evil twins, amnesia, back from the dead.  We even tend to scoff when new, unknown characters are introduced, as they jolt us away from our comfortable usual set of “suspects.” 

It’s clear that soap operas have this mesmerizing effect on us.  We need our daily fix. We need to see our favorite characters and engage in their current stories. Then, we vent, praise and share our thoughts day in and day out to any other soap fan who will listen.  The internet has been an amazing facilitator of this.  Where better to dish your favorite soap than on a message board or in a chat room with other fans? 

For the networks, airing soaps equates to a direct way of putting money in their pockets while they promote their other programming to television’s most loyal audience.

Let’s take Y&R for example.  According to the side bar in the Hollywood Reporter (Wednesday, March 26, 2003), CBS uses Y&R as a promotional platform more than any other of its programs.  Sony executive VP, David Mumfor, was quoted as saying that Y&R is a great vehicle to get women to watch primetime shows Monday-Friday, since 40% of those viewers are available for nighttime viewing.   Not only that, Y&R offers the network over 22 minutes for sponsors.  Did you know that your hour-long Y&R only actually runs just under 38 minutes?  The rest of the hour is devoted to commercials, and network and affiliate station promotions.  Which is also why airing soap operas makes dollars and sense for networks.  In Y&R’s case, one show costs approximately $250,000-400,000 per episode.  It costs a primetime hour-long show about $2.5 million to produce.

The good news is, as long as there are audiences watching, and networks making money as a result; your favorite soap is here to stay. 

For a copy of the Hollywood Reporter Special Issue on Y&R’s 30th Anniversary visit or call (323) 525-2087 and ask for Back Issues.

Coming SOON to

Til the top of next week,

Linda Marshall-Smith
CEO, Soapdom, Inc.

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