Friday, November 14, 2008

Is Roger Newcomb right? Are there too many Victor covers at SOD?

Roger Newcomb has been, appropriately, beating the drum about too many Victor covers at SOD.

His latest post on this is here, and says in part:

I hate to beat a dead horse with this, but with daytime ratings in the toilet and subscriptions down, seeing Digest on the newsstand might be the only thing that piques a lapsed fan's interested. And so those people are left with the impression that the only things happening on the soaps these days are the same things that have been going on for decades. How about trying to reel in some new fans or win some old fans back?

And in case someone at Digest hasn't noticed, no soap has lost more viewers than Y&R in the past year (nearly 800,000 viewers since last based based on the Nielsen Ratings for the week ending November 7). Despite the improvement in quality, the ratings are sinking fast so all this promotion isn't helping. Yet THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS has been the main cover or partial cover of Digest in 14 of the past 19 issues (that's 74%). And Eric Braeden has been on the cover seven times (with Victor menioned on an eighth). Digest, it's time to turn your attention to the rest of the soap world for a while.

I posted a comment there that said the following:

I'm with a Y&R fan...except for that little bit of sophistry. "Y&R has lost the most viewers....promote other shows" (I paraphrase).

From the premise that there is Victor overkill (I agree...but it MUST be boosting sales, no?)

- Y&R remains that strongest show by most measures, so boosting it COULD serve to boost the industry "flagship". For example, on weeks where Y&R is down, B&B/ATWT/GL are often down too. So, saving Y&R might save the whole CBS lineup

- proportionally, all of CBS is in jeopardy, but Y&R is NOT the "biggest loser" when it comes to percentage loss. These numbers are taken from Toups' ratings archive at Soapoperanetwork:

SHOW, 11/03/08 rating, change since 11/07, 11/07 rating, % change since 07

Y&R, 4674000, -797000, 5471000, -15%
B&B, 3379000, -489000, 3868000, -13
GH, 2895000, -248000, 3143000, -8%
OLTL, 2693000, 34000, 2659000, +1%
DAYS, 2686000, 143000, 2543000, +6%
AMC, 2664000, 184000, 2480000, +7%
ATWT, 2551000, -419000, 2970000, -14%
GL, 2065000, -505000, 2570000, -20%

- From these numbers, GL is in "death trajectory", and GH is not statistically different from Y&R.

- If we're going to make these judgments based on numbers, we probably have to look at "volatility". Y&R is also more VOLATILE than the other shows, showing more week-to-week variation. So, not all weeks look this bad :-).

None of this takes away from your point! I agree that Y&R is getting too much cover time, and that SOD is failing to represent the genre as a whole!

But the argument for SOD to do differently should be conceptual...not on the basis of numbers. Y&R is the strongest show creatively, budgetarily, and in absolute numbers.

My guess is that SourceInterlink would reply that "these covers ARE based on numbers...what sells".

If that is true, how do we deal with it? Just like Soapnet can't afford to show soaps because the financials don't support it...apparently SOD has revealed that the financials now require Victor covers. If that is true...if they don't sell as many issues when other soaps are on the cover, what can we do about that??

Many fans are complaining about the bizarre developments at our soap venues:

- Soapnet is moving away from soaps

- SOD is moving to a Y&R-only format :)

I think we have to remember what is really happening here. The financials are driving these decisions. This isn't about "editor preference" or "bad editorial judgement" or whatever. I'll bet SOD doesn't even get to choose this: I'll bet SourceInterlink is mandating this.

The REAL lesson here is that we are going to have to let go of Soapnet and SOD. They're almost done.

Soaps are moving to the online that is more democratic and less commercial. Roger Newcomb himself is a perfect example: His soap AND his blogsite are terrific...and they are totally internet! That is the future. That is how we get around Madison Avenue.

When Soapnet goes, online broadcasts of surviving soaps will be the new "re-purposing". I expect we'll lose at least a soap a year, maybe more, for the next few years. When SOD goes, Roger and the many wonderful online sites will fill the a far more democratic way. This is simply emblematic of the larger future of broadcast, cable and print.

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