Game ShowsRatingsSyndicated

Broadcast vs. Syndicated: The Winners and Losers of Daytime TV

CBS Broadcasting Inc.
CBS Broadcasting Inc.

For more than 10 years fans of daytime soap operas have been coming to Soap Opera Network to find out how their favorite soap was faring in the weekly report. From time to time we would also provide analysis of how they stacked up when compared to their broadcast counterparts in the talk show and game show genres, but we’ve never looked at how the broadcast soaps (and to a lesser extent the broadcast talk and game shows) compared to syndicated television. Not that it wasn’t easy to provide a comparison, it was just never something we found necessary. In recent months, with the introduction of several syndicated talk shows including “” and “,” which together took over the 3:00 PM slot from “” in much of the country this past September after “GH” moved to 2:00 PM, and the second season without “,” things have changed. Recently, Broadcasting & Cable came out with a report that showed how syndicated programs might be a solid alternative to our soaps in the key demographics when it comes to Madison Avenue buying advertising time. While we wouldn’t want advertisers to give up on our favorite shows, B&C does provide a solid rationalization and even highlights the value of soap operas when it comes to the all important key women demos (Women 18-49, Women 25-54, etc).

Sonja Flemming/CBS

Each week press release after press release from ABC, CBS and even NBC highlight how their daytime blocks are doing in x, y  and z demographics. What those releases don’t mention are how their numbers compare to say “” or even “.” According to Broadcasting & Cable, while “” averages about 4.5 million viewers each weekday with 3.4 million falling in the key women demos, “Y&R” has nothing on “Judy,” which averages about 9 million viewers with 5.7 million of them being women. “Dr. Phil” by comparison averages about 3.8 million viewers with 2.9 million being women and “” averages 5.9 million viewers with 3.8 million being key women. All together, “Y&R” would place third overall in all of daytime (broadcast and syndicated) when lumping the key women demos together. That’s of course a solid position to be in for the long-running CBS soap opera. “,” which airs just behind “Y&R” in much of the country is averaging 2.4 million women while “” ranges from 2.5 million women for its first half-hour to 3 million women for its second half-hour. “” is averaging 2.7 million women. While their total viewing numbers might rank them higher than most syndicated programs on any given week, both “General Hospital” and “” with a 1.8 million women average fall below several syndicated programs. “” and “” both average 2.3 million women while “” and “LIVE! with Kelly and Michael” average 2 million women. “Katie” is tied with “DAYS” and “GH” in women viewers.

One category where soap operas seem to thrive is in median age. Collectively “B&B,” “DAYS,” “GH” and “Y&R” have a median age of 55-59 (“GH” being the youngest). Talk and cooking shows “,” “” and “The View” range from 59-61, while “TPIR” is at the point of retirement with a median age of 64. Judy’s median age is over 60 as well.

While broadcast daytime shows do draw more viewers, the Syndicated Network Television Association points out in a recent study that daytime syndication offers 68% of ad impressions targeting women 18-49 and 66% of impressions targeting women 25-54.
That same study adds that Judge Judy (3.3), Maury (1.7) and Family Feud (1.4) draw higher women 18-49 ratings than the broadcast network daytime shows, and that Dr. Phil (1.3) ties CBS’ The Young and the Restless in the 18-49 women’s demo category. Live! With Kelly and Michael (1.1) and Ellen(1.1) are next in the demo, ahead of ABC’s The View (1.0), which has a similar demo rating to Judge Joe Brown. The study collected numbers just prior to the start of the new season in September; while a few of the ratings numbers have changed, the order remains pretty much the same.

Among women 25-54, Judge Judy is the clear leader, averaging a 3.3, followed by The Young and the Restless, trailing considerably with a 1.8. Syndicated series Dr. Phil, Maury, Family Feud, Ellenand Live! With Kelly and Michael are next, ahead of The ViewThe Bold and the Beautiful andGeneral Hospital.

For a more in-depth look at broadcast and syndicated television ratings, head on over to the Broadcasting & Cable website.

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  • That’s all well and good, but I just want to see Katie GONE, GH back at 3pm (where it belongs!) and OLTL back on the air!! GH has gone down in the ratings because that’s the way ABC wanted it! They moved it to an awful time slot, and put KC in it’s place. Why couldn’t they have put KC in the 2pm spot?? Because they thought people might want to watch her if she was in GH’s spot…NOT!!! Go away Katie, and give us back our soaps!!!!

    • Kane

      By using an alternative viewing data system named Rentrak, the networks are finding out that Nielsen’s data is not accurate. Comparisons between the two systems have proven that for Days of our Lives, Nielsen is only counting one in four of that show’s viewers. Nielsen uses the same old estimation based system that it has used since the fifties. Now we have technology which wasn’t available in the fifties. They take a small sample of viewers and multiply those numbers to achieve a

      • Aquaria

        Multiplying from sample sizes is how ALL stats work. It’s how Rentraks’ stats work. The secret is in the demographics.

        I’d need to see SOLID evidence that the Rentrak stats are more accurate, namely by looking at their methodologies. When I just tried to look, their site was down. NOT a good sign.

  • These are older ratings….GH has improved much in the last 3 months…record ratings……..Neilsens are outdated and don’t take into account DVR’s etc.

  • volsfan

    In our area, TheRickieLake show was put into our 3pmGH slot & Katie was put into 3pm on NBC–which was AndersonCooper’s time. Sounds like ABC didn’t put Katie everywhere ABC 3pm sold it ($$$$)to her old news channel NBC. So when she fails, it doesn’t show as failing to a soap. TRL show would also have to fail here on ABC too. Also, all the new nighttime soaps ABC invested in such as Nashville, should prove we need our OLTL/GH & AMC trio back as daytime lineups. Nothing shows our personal dvr recordings & Nielsen is for the birds!

  • steve

    Maybe ATWT and OLTL were worth saving after all given their low production costs. They would be running about even with Katie, but at a lower price tag. The ax the soap fad seems over, and I predict we will see the development of a low cost 30minute soap within a few years.

  • Kate

    I think most younger soap viewers watch their soaps on DVR, youtube, hulu, or their network website (I’m a 33 yr old female and watch Days on youtube). Overall, I just think that there’s more soap viewers than what the Nielson numbers report.

    • Aquaria

      Sigh. Look, it DOESN’T matter how the people watch these shows (BTW, hulu IS tracked, cupcake).

      The reality is this: American television is essentially programming to draw you in TO SEE THE ADS. The advertisers are paying for the programming to get you to look at those ads. That’s all!

      Hence why youtube and DVR views are IMMATERIAL.