Saturday, June 21, 2008

Is DISGUST the emotion fueling ratings loss?

In May-June 2008, Y&R was undergoing a precipitous drop, going from an already low household rating of about 4.0 to a new mean of 3.5 or lower...all in the span of a month or so. This seemed odd...Lynn Latham's last show was 12/24/ why would it take so long for the ratings to decline?

Indeed, PJA of SON asserted "Y&R ratings are falling because the current writers are doing a poor job not because of LML."

I just don't think it is that simple, but I have no evidence to disprove your conjecture.

Especially Y&R, with the oldest and biggest audience, should have the biggest proportion of people who "stick through thick and thin".

The massive viewer abandonment of the last few weeks implies that they were ready to leave. If you do not assume that is because LML created a new cohort of more fickle viewers (see an earlier post up-thread), then you have to assume it is because the viewers were "softened"...gotten ready to leave. I read this as JP's hypothesis. There is a cumulative disgust...but it has to get to a certain point before you're ready to tune out. LML got people near the threshhold, and then MAB walked them over it.

Now, to this I add: A lot of us have been blaming the glacial storytelling...the absence of momentum.

I don't think that is what is doing it.

Based on several informal conversations, the near universal comment that is being made is that viewers CANNOT STAND VICTOR AND SABRINA.

Every scene in which he kisses her, carries her up the stairs, they coo French to each other, etc....leads to disgust. I mean really, virulent physical disgust of the type that people turn off the TV.

(I don't have that reaction, but this couple is earning REAL hatred). Because the couple is producing DISGUST (that is a rare emotion for a soap couple to generate)...disgust is the most dangerous emotion. DISGUST is the emotion that makes people walk away from their show.

If my thesis is right, we should see the ALL TIME lowest ratings in the weeks to come. For example, if Victor and Sabrina were ever to marry...I think LEGIONS of fans would switch off.

So, I am now predicting that Y&R will continue to fall...ESPECIALLY in the third week of June. If that happens, it will help confirm that Victor-Sabrina disgust is driving a large portion of viewer defections.

In that case, the only thing that could possibly win fans back is a MASSIVE marketing campaign in which they reveal Sabrina to be an evil art thief, who has totally screwed Victor over. So diabolical, she planned this for years, befriending Vikki in Italy. So cunning, she is revealed to be as the FIRST person to TRULY bring Victor down.

That, I think, might bring disgusted viewers back. They'd love to see Victor eat crow, be humiliated. Sadly, Eric Braeden will refuse to play it, even if it saves the show. If the creative team offered Braeden a followup revenge storyline (in which he hunts the globe trying to apprehend and destroy Sabrina), he might do it...and that might grow viewers.

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