Earlier this month, NBC announced that it will cease airing all-new episodes of “Days of our Lives” after the show’s current 57th season wraps next month. Season 58 will kick off on Monday, September 12 with the show moving exclusively to Peacock, the streaming service owned by NBCUniversal, a division of Comcast. The network will replace the soap with “NBC News Daily,” an hourlong news program featuring up-to-the-minute national and international news, or local news on stations opting to air alternate programming. In light of NBC’s surprise lineup change, here’s a breakdown of what we know so far.
“Days of our Lives” will be available exclusively to subscribers of the streaming service’s premium plan ($4.99 with ads/$9.99 without ads). This means that after more than two years of being accessible to anyone registered with a free or paid account, viewers will now only be able to watch all-new episodes of the daytime drama series through a paid plan which includes access to thousands of hours of programming across NBCUniversal, including “The Real Housewives” franchise on Bravo, “The Voice” on NBC, and recently released blockbusters from Universal Pictures, among others.
Barring any schedule changes, the final NBC episode of “Days of our Lives” will air on Friday, September 9 with the network airing 14,418 total episodes since its debut on November 8, 1965, and just two months shy of the show’s 57th anniversary. The series is the last of what remained of NBC Daytime which was officially dissolved as a division following the move of “Passions” to DirecTV in 2007. Various departments and executives have since overseen the show for the network after several consolidations and expansions. In 2007, then NBC Universal Television president Jeff Zucker famously stated the soap was “unlikely to continue past 2009.”
Sources tell Soap Opera Network that things are still being worked out with the move to Peacock and more information will be known as soon as next week. We’re also told that when the show moves to Peacock it will continue releasing five episodes of daily drama each week, keeping its format and frequency the same. Additionally, there are currently no plans to cut back on the number of episodes produced each year, should the show continue beyond Season 58.
Additional information on migrating the show from broadcast to streaming came out today via executive producer Ken Corday from an interview with Soap Opera Digest, on newsstands now, where he revealed that the move to Peacock was already built into the show’s two-year renewal order signed back in May 2021.
“The network always had the right to migrate the show exclusively to Peacock and now they’ve decided to do so, and we’re excited,” said Corday, whose production company also owns the shows. “The bottom line is, this is the future. Whether people believe it now, or in a year or two, this is the future of first-run dramatic television. Let’s just hope the migration is wonderful and our loyal viewers stick with us and subscribe.”
Two seasons of “Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem” and the one-off movie “A Very Salem Christmas” likely helped NBC conclude that viewers would follow the show behind a paywall, Corday pointed out, saying, “I think ‘Beyond Salem,’ as wonderful as they were, were, in a way, a litmus test for Peacock to see how the show performed exclusively behind the paywall.” He added that the most recent chapter did well on the service, “and knowing that, they felt the best way to boost subscriptions was to migrate us.”
The move to Peacock does not mean the show will eventually be canceled. At the moment, the move fulfills the parameters of the contract NBC agreed upon with distributor Sony Pictures Television and Corday Productions in May 2021 when the network handed the soap a two-year renewal. The choice to move the series to Peacock for the final year of the deal had more to do with a need to drive subscribers to Peacock than it did with the overall performance of “Days of our Lives” on broadcast television. However, the current tape-to-air schedule gives the soap little room to adjust to a streaming-only schedule before a decision on whether to continue the show for a 59th season needs to be made.
No one is trying to kill a six-decade-old series. If anything, they are hoping to save a fledgling streaming service that without the Olympics and “Sunday Night Football” to drive signups all year round has been unable to break out in the streaming wars. Since its launch in 2020, only four series have seen at least two seasons on Peacock, including “Beyond Salem,” “Saved by the Bell,” “Rutherford Falls” and “Girls5eva.” Of the four, only “Saved by the Bell” has been officially canceled while the remaining shows await news on a possible third season.
In a recent earnings call, Comcast announced subscriptions to the streaming service stalled in Q2 with 13 million paid subscribers and just 27 million monthly active accounts, down one million active accounts from what was reported in Q1 and flat with paid subscribers leaving Peacock significantly behind Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO/HBO Max, Hulu and Paramount+ in overall subscribers which is why a good amount of NBC programming currently available on Hulu will be transitioning to Peacock this fall, specifically next-day episodes of “Saturday Night Live” and “The Voice,” along with the entire libraries from “The Real Housewives, “Top Chef” and “Below Deck” franchises, among others.
With little time left before the show transitions from broadcast television to streaming exclusively, fans can expect a promotional campaign featuring cast members appearing in public service announcements and even Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes (Doug Williams and Julie Williams) showing each other how to access Peacock for those needing extra guidance.
Anytime there is change everyone wants to know when they’ll see it happen on air. Well, since the soap has already taped episodes through the end of February 2023, viewers won’t notice any physical changes until at least March. One expected change will be that the episode length set by the broadcast network can be extended with the move to streaming since the show will no longer have to accommodate 22 minutes of commercial time.
In his interview with Soap Opera Digest, Corday wasn’t very unclear on how such a change would impact international markets considering the show could air longer episodes in the United States via Peacock but would still have to cut down on scenes for episodes airing on traditional broadcasters elsewhere. Regardless, Corday promises that in addition to longer program length the show will be able to say and do things that are more “titillating” than currently possible on broadcast television. Again, he does not indicate how either would be possible when still having to produce a show that is available in other markets.
With solid support from NBC and Peacock, Corday notes, “It’s still ‘Days of our Lives’ but it’s not your mother’s ‘Days of our Lives.’ It changes, it’s growing, but in all the best ways. The network has been extremely positive, extremely encouraging, extremely happy, all the extremes, and are allaying any qualms I may have. So, it’s really wonderful to have that kind of profile from programmers and the business people that run NBC and Peacock.”
In announcing the Peacock move, the service noted that all new episodes will debut on Peacock daily with the “show’s robust library already available to stream for Peacock Premium subscribers.” This includes all episodes already available on the platform prior to the announcement and does not include older episodes at this time. Additionally, the historic move to Peacock creates the ultimate destination for daytime fans to access the library, new episodes and Peacock Original “Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem” in one place.
A premium subscription for Peacock costs $4.99 a month (with ads) or $9.99 a month (without ads*). The higher tier requires some advertising for select programming and the ability to watch select titles offline with download capability. For more information on how to stream the series, and to register/subscribe, visit PeacockTV.com.
Will you follow “Days of our Lives” to Peacock? Let us know in the comments below.