As Senior Vice President of CBS Daytime, Angelica McDaniel is ultimately responsible for the daily operation of television’s most popular daily lineup consisting of “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “Let’s Make a Deal,” “The Price is Right,” “The Talk” and “The Young and the Restless.” A few weeks ago, Soap Opera Network had the opportunity of speaking with McDaniel about her diverse lineup filled with soap operas, game shows and talk shows.
When we asked McDaniel what was going through her mind knowing she had the most successful daytime lineup on American television, she humbly said, “Well, it’s thrilling of course! But I can’t take all of the credit, because I’ve only been the head of daytime now for a year. I really was blessed to inherit a really strong, successful lineup that had been number one for 27 years.” Of course, there’s another but.
“But the first thing that I said to every actor, every executive producer, every production company that we work with is, ‘We can’t rest on our laurels just because we’re number one.'” She adds, “We can’t just say, ‘Well that’s great’ and just kind of pose. We really have to challenge ourselves to be bigger and bolder and better. We have to be bigger and better and bolder tomorrow than we were today. And every single person has risen to that challenge. And we’ve had a lot of really great press releases come out in the last few months about increases and gains and everything fluctuates, because Rome is not built in a day, but what’s really exciting is to see the increase in viewership, specifically on the soaps, and specifically on ‘Y&R’, because ‘Bold’ had already been growing for a year and half. But on ‘Y&R,’ we see the numbers up from this time last year. And that’s what’s really exciting, because it’s not going to turn around overnight. I really say we have to plateau and grow. We have to get the numbers to plateau and then slowly grow them. And it’s completely possible. And we’re doing such great things on this show. And Jill [Farren Phelps, executive producer] and Josh [Griffith, head writer]…Josh is great at story, and Jill is a real strong leader, and we’ve got new cast members, and then we have our veteran cast members. It’s just a really exciting time at CBS Daytime and for ‘Y&R.'”
Although CBS does remain a dominant number one in daytime with both “Y&R” and “B&B” doing very well after 40 and 26 years on the air, respectively, CBS fans still worry about what the future may hold for daytime soap operas with the cancellations of “Guiding Light” and “As The World Turns” in 2009 and 2010 still fresh in their minds. While McDaniel wasn’t the one who made the decision to cancel either series, we posed the hypothetical question of what she would have done had she been in charge of the lineup just five years earlier.
“I think what’s hard about that question, well, there’s a lot of layers to that, and it’s the what if game. I’m always focused on moving forward in the future, so just to kind of play the what if game for a moment, what’s really tough about that is that we had production partners, and they decided that they no longer wanted to do the shows. CBS doesn’t own properties, the production companies, Sony owns ‘The Young and the Restless,’ and we license it from them. So if Sony were essentially to say, ‘We’re closing up shop, and this is our property and we’re not going to give it to you, we don’t want to do anything with it,’ we really have no say. Our hands are tied. So that’s really one of the things that went into it. That was the main thing that went into that decision. So, there’s a lot of layers to things like that. I obviously was not in those rooms and not in those conversations, but what did come out of that, while some fans might have found it to be very controversial at the time, but what came out of that is launching ‘The Talk.’ And what’s really great for us now at CBS is I think we have a really good balance of three genres. And ‘The Talk,’ as you see, is a great platform to promote the whole network, to promote what’s happening in primetime and in sports, the Superbowl in New Orleans, and that was amazing. But it’s such a great synergistic platform for daytime. Wayne Brady is actually at ‘The Talk’ today, and he’s co-hosting, filling in for Sharon [Osbourne], for three days. And so we’re promoting ‘Lets Make A Deal.’ Drew Carey has come on multiple times, we had ‘Y&R’ on yesterday, [and] we have so many of the stars of daytime who were able to come on to ‘The Talk.’ And it becomes this great way to create awareness and to tell a story, and we never would have had that opportunity if we didn’t have a talk show. So out of lemons, you can make lemonade. And that’s about finding your opportunities, maximizing them.”
Once considered the dinosaur of broadcast television networks, CBS has emerged as one of the most prolific on social media with its “Tweet Week” event along with much of its shows and stars on Twitter tweeting away during broadcasts or special events. CBS Daytime is no different.
“Social media is another example of something that CBS Daytime wasn’t doing anything for, and now, we’re continuing to create awareness for our brand by being out there. And today, we had an initiative where @cbsdaytime and @YandR_CBS official Twitter handler got put in Twitter jail, because we were trying to get trending, and we did it! We trended! So all of the fans obviously contributed, but for three hours I was tweeting up a storm trying not to get put in jail! It’s just a great example of times changing. And you have to take advantage of everything that you have at your disposal to get viewers to increase their frequency of tuning in and bring new viewers in and to just continue to push ourselves to make these shows the best they can be.”
For more from McDaniel on the use of focus groups, the filming style of the CBS Daytime shows, the rebirth of daytime soaps, and the decision to burn down the Newman family ranch on “Y&R,” check back on Monday, May 6 for part two of our CENTER STAGE interview!