Saturday, June 21, 2008

Estimated time of death...or the last soap will be cancelled in 2016

So, on June 19, RocketMan compared the ratings for the preceding week to a year before.

Comparing the ratings from a year ago, Y&R still suffered the biggest loss in the ratings: **(last week/last year) June 3-9, 2008 1-Y&R 3.5 (same/-.5)** 2-B&B 2.6 (same/-.2)** 3-GH 2.2 (-.1/-.3)** 4-OLTL 2.1 (-.1/-.2)** 5-AMC 2.0 (-.2/-.3)** 6-ATWT 1.9 (same/-.2)** 6-DAYS 1.9 (+.1/-.2)** 8-GL 1.6 (same/-.3)**

To me, these figures tell the real story. All soaps are down across the board. That's the general trend, and shows where the industry is heading...and it has nothing to do with week-by-week promotion.

The other interesting story is that the AVERAGE one-year decline is greatest for CBS soaps (esp. flagship Y&R). That tells the other big story...CBS is in free fall.

Put these together, and you get the big picture. These little weekly blips in response to promotion etc...we really can disregard them :-).

Indeed, the enduring message that keeps on being clear is that (a) returning big name stars, or (cool.gif hiring big name stars from other shows or © short term stunt casting does NOTHING for ratings. Usually, it doesn't even manifest in a brief one-week blip. BUT, if it does, the blip is invariably small, and does NOTHING to stem the average downward trend.

Look at it this way...across all soaps, the one-year decline has been about .3 or so.

Let's assume that is a linear function, and constant across all soaps (I know these are big assumptions, but play with me). Where does that bring us?

While we're at it, let's make one other TINY little assumption: Soaps are automatically cancelled when they reach a rating of 1.0 or lower.

The first graphic shows the resulting table.

This flawed projection says that we lose GL in 2010 (i.e., this last renewal was its last). It says 2011 is the year of hemmorhage and bloodshed, with Days, OLTL, AMC, and ATWT all leaving us. By the way, that's about right (maybe a year late) given recent contract extensions for Days and ATWT. It says both shows will get one last renewal. Finally, the mighty tumble. We lose GH in 2012, B&B in 2013. Y&R hangs on all the way to 2016.

Of course, I know this is nonsense. Decline is actually FASTER than linear right now. Rank orders shift weekly. The 0.3 loss per year is too global. Still, for me, this kind of figure clearly illustrates inevitability. I'm probably off by a year or so here or there. But basically, this is my anticipated future. I'd love to be proven wrong.

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