Offline Still Thwarts Online According to ABC Programming Executive

General Hospital
Disney/ABC Television Group

In the newest issue of CBS Soaps In Depth, on newsstands now, Nathan Varni, manager, current series, ABC Entertainment, reveals that despite all the fan chatter on message boards, Facebook, Twitter and the like, offline viewers of the network’s “General Hospital” continues to thwart online viewers when it comes to storyline direction.

“I do listen to what everyone is saying,” says Varni to the magazine. “I love being part of the conversation. Having Frank [Valentini, executive producer], myself and the writers [Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman] on social media shows how much we love the show and the genre and want to see this keep going.”

With that said, Varni acknowledges that online viewership remains a small percentage of the overall audience when compared to those who aren’t online.

“It’s hard to find a consensus,” notes Varni of his dealings with fans online. “I tried a few times to be like, ‘Okay, what are the takeaways?’ But it’s like people are campaigning for a politician — or in this case their favorite character. Even if a small army is attacking you, that’s just a small percentage of the daily viewers.”

After sharing a personal story about meeting with a friend’s mom who he visits from time to time, and who isn’t on Facebook or Twitter, Varni notes that she dishes the latest storylines with women she sees at the beauty salon.

From their conversations, Varni says he feels those types of people are the real soap fans. “To me, those are the true, big fans. They’ve been watching almost every day for decades and just seem to eat it up. They might not like certain storylines… but they don’t threaten to stop watching!”

For more from Varni about offline viewership vs. online viewership, and where most of the story ideas come from, pick up the latest issue of CBS Soaps In Depth.