When the senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump began on Tuesday, January 21, broadcast networks ABC and CBS decided to preempt their regularly scheduled programming block consisting of soap operas “General Hospital,” “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful,” respectively. However, within days, CBS returned to airing original episodes of “Y&R” for those markets not impacted by CBS News impeachment coverage while “B&B” remained preempted. ABC continued preempting “GH” for ABC News coverage. Things changed earlier this week when both networks opted to return to airing original episodes of each soap, albeit only in those markets again not impacted by ABC News and CBS News impeachment coverage. And, now we know why the networks were quick to return to airing original episodes of their soaps. Ratings were just that bad.
According to TVNewser, for the first seven days of impeachment trial coverage, ABC averaged just 1.3 million viewers, of which 307,000 fell into the all-important Adults 25-54 demographic that helps set advertising rates for news programs. CBS averaged 1.4 million viewers and 284,000 in the demo while NBC averaged a mere 893,000 viewers with 219,000 in the demo. Just one week prior, the four soaps averaged 2.7 million viewers with an average of 422,000 falling in the demo. It should be noted that there were no commercials aired during news coverage of the impeachment trial, which means the networks weren’t being paid for their broadcasts.
On Monday, January 27, CBS finally returned to airing original episodes of “B&B” in those markets not impacted by impeachment trial coverage. The network averaged 1.5 million viewers and 339,000 in the demo on that day. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, January 28, CBS averaged just 1.3 million viewers with 248,000 falling in the demo. The slide in viewership also impacted ABC, which likely helped the network finally decide to again air original episodes of “GH” for the first time since Monday, January 20. On 1/27, ABC averaged 1.3 million viewers with 284,000 in the demo, and on 1/28 the network averaged just 1.2 million viewers with 276,000 in the demo. The first original episode of “GH” began running on Wednesday, January 29 in markets not impacted by impeachment coverage, particularly on the west coast.
NBC, which was the only network to air original episodes of “Days of our Lives” during the entirety of the impeachment trial due to the show airing in markets earlier than when coverage of the impeachment trial was scheduled to begin, continued losing viewers. The network averaged just 863,000 viewers with 190,000 in the demo on 1/27 and 876,000 viewers with 210,000 in the demo.
All episodes of “B&B,” “DAYS,” GH” and “Y&R” were made available via each network’s respective apps by around 8:00 EST each day from when original episodes aired, and via Hulu and other on-demand service providers the next day.
The impeachment trial is set to conclude next week when a final vote from senators is expected. The president is understood to be acquitted now that we know votes necessary for calling for witnesses just isn’t there.