Why 'One Life' May Put Longest Running Soap in Permanent 'Hospital' Stay

(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — As of this writing, ratings for the week of May 2-6, 2011 have not been released to us by Nielsen Media Research. With that in mind, based on the latest information we have (week of April 25-29, 2011), "One Life to Live" has surpassed "General Hospital" as ABC's most watched daytime drama series for the second consecutive week. For fans of the canceled drama series, unfortunately that isn't entirely good news.

No one expects ABC to miraculously change its mind after making the devastating announcement that it has opted to cancel "One Life" and "All My Children" in favor of programming that costs 30-40% less than a scripted daily serial, but a consistent "One Life to Live" only spells doom for daytime's longest running current soap opera, "General Hospital." How is that possible you ask? Simple mathematics.

Should "One Life to Live" continue to outperform "General Hospital" in total viewers and rank at or higher than "GH" in the Women 18-49 (which is the demographic advertising dollars are sold under for daytime programs) for a prolonged period of time, ABC will have the opportunity it needs to justify canceling 48-year-old "GH" in favor of a rumored Katie Couric hosted talk show. This is despite insider claims that Couric's new show with ABC (should she not reach an agreement with CBS before their 30-day bargaining window expires in June) would air in syndication. As we already know, an ABC representative had told us numerous times that programming under development at its ABC Media Productions division did not mean any potential series would air on the ABC Television Network. ABC Media Productions falls under the guidance of Brian Frons, President, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group and the division is expected to distribute the Couric talker in the fall of 2012 should a deal be hashed out with ABC instead of CBS.

ABC Media Productions History With ABC
(as published by Soap Opera Network in February 2011)

The Facts

In 2009 and again in 2010, news broke that ABC Media Productions (previously known as Buena Vista Television) was developing talk shows and reality programming for corporate parent Disney/ABC Television Group. ABC Media Productions, ABC Daytime and soon-to-depart SOAPnet are all overseen by Brian Frons, President, Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group. The production company has produced "Southern Belles: Louisville" and "HoliDate" for SOAPnet, along with oversight of game show "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?" which airs in national syndication.

In a November 2010 report, Los Angeles Times reporter Joe Flint published an article announcing that the production company had found the right man to co-host a daily talk show alongside Tori Spelling ("Beverly Hills, 90210"). That man was Jeff Lewis ("Flipping Out"). "In the test pilot show with Spelling last week, the two had good chemistry. The show, which is still in the development stage, wants to be a talk show version of 'Will & Grace,'" the report said at the time. When news initially broke, speculation went wild that ABC would be canceling one or more of its soaps this season and would replace them with this show, which has since gone nowhere beyond the initial pilot filmed in November. This same scenario played out in the Summer of 2009 when ABC Media Productions was developing a talk show for Aisha Tyler, but the key factor is whether or not these shows the company is developing are even targeted for the ABC Television Network itself. The production company after all has produced numerous hours of original programming for non-Disney cable networks including SyFy, TLC and TruTV. Last summer the company announced they were developing a half-hour reality show called "Ghost Town" and featuring well-known psychic Maureen Hancock as she goes "coast to coast calling up the past, seeing the future, and contacting spirits." That potential series was to be produced by "Ghost Whisperer" executive producers Kim Moses and Ian Sander. Nothing's been heard about the project since.

Ultimately any decision on "GH's" future will remain on how much money ABC receives from advertisers, specifically one's they receive during the 2011-2012 television season. The more ABC makes, the longer the show remains – the less it makes or the less profit the network receives, the more they will feel inclined to make a change.

For a breakdown of "General Hospital" and "One Life to Live" ratings over the course of the last two weeks, see below.
(Please note that decisions on the fate of a daytime series does not rest on two weeks of data, but that of a long term trend.

For the Week of April 25-29, 2011

Total Viewers
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

3. OLTL 2,544,000 (-218,000/+233,000)
4. GH 2,524,000 (-23,000/-172,000)

Note: OLTL beat GH by 20,000 viewers and continued to gain viewers vs its year-ago performance. GH remained on the negative side.

Households
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

3. GH 1.9/6 (same/same)
3. OLTL 1.9/6 (-.1/+.2)

Women 18-49 Viewers
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

2. GH 676,000 (-37,000/-169,000) <—- new low
4. OLTL 625,000 (-65,000/-36,000)

Note: OLTL lost the least amount viewers in this demographic year-to-year compared to GH. Meanwhile, GH lost the least week-to-week (Week of April 25, 2011 vs Week of April 18, 2011) although it did hit a new record low in Women 18-49 viewers

Women 18-49 Rating
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

2. GH 1.0/6 (-.1/-.3) <—- ties low
4. OLTL 0.9/6 (-.1/-.1)

Note: GH beat OLTL by 0.1 in Women 18-49, but lost the most points year-to-year while OLTL was down by a minimal amount.

Girls 12-17 Viewers
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

2. OLTL 31,000 (+13,000/+13,000)
3. GH 30,000 (+13,000/-17,000)

Women 18-34 Rating
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

2. OLTL 0.6/4 (same/-.1)
2. DAYS 0.6/4 (same/-.3)
4. GH 0.5/4 (-.1/-.4) <—- new low *

Men 18+
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

4. OLTL 488,000 (-77,000/+42,000)
6. GH 448,000 (-25,000/-106,000)

Note: The one category that OLTL consistently beats GH in. Clearly showing signs that men do watch the soaps, although no where near the number watched by women.

For the Week of April 18-22, 2011

Total Viewers
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

3. OLTL 2,762,000 (+263,000/+507,000)
4. GH 2,547,000 (+10,000/-61,000)

Note: OLTL beat GH by more than 200,000 viewers and was up by a whopping 500,000 viewers year to year.

Households
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

2. OLTL 2.0/6 (+.1/+.3) *
4. GH 1.9/6 (same/same)

Note: OLTL ranked second (including ties) for the first time since May 23-27, 2005.

Women 18-49 Viewers
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

2. GH 713,000 (-58,000/-133,000)
3. OLTL 690,000 (+22,000/+62,000)

Note: GH beat OLTL by just 23,000 Women 18-49 viewers. Once again, OLTL remained on the plus side while GH remained in the negative.

Women 18-49 Rating
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

2. GH 1.1/7 (-.1/-.2)
3. OLTL 1.0/7 (same/same)

Girls 12-17 Viewers
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

3. OLTL 18,000 (-2,000/-6,000)
4. GH 17,000 (+5,000/-24,000)

Women 18-34 Rating
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

2. GH 0.6/4 (-.2/-.3) <—- ties low
2. OLTL 0.6/4 (-.1/same)

Note: Both soaps tied in Women 18-34, but GH lost the most year-to-year and week-to-week. The series also tied its record low.

Men 18+
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)

3. OLTL 565,000 (+124,000/+176,000)
6. GH 473,000 (+58,000/-2,000)

Note: The one category that OLTL consistently beats GH in. Clearly showing signs that men do watch the soaps, although no where near the number watched by women.

  • One Life to Live
  • General Hospital
  • Brian Frons
  • Katie Couric

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