Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The soap magazines hung on better than the soaps!

Today, I was fiddling around with my usual ratings charts. What started it was the claim by Brenda Dickson (to's Nelson Branco) that when she came and left to Y&R, that coincided with Y&R hitting and leaving #1 status. That seems palpably false, since she last left Y&R in 1987 and Y&R didn't hit #1 (where it has stayed) till the 1998-1999 season. This figure illustrates the point.

You can't help but look at those lines after 1990, though, and just click your tongue at the unrelenting bleeding.

So then I got to wondering, "how badly did this all this soap decline hurt the magazines"? The figures and tables below provide some data about this, and they are somewhat surprising. During the 2000s, the magazines have pretty much "held on". Indeed, Soaps in Depth emerged in this decade, and quickly overtook Soap Opera Digest (both the ABC and CBS versions separately overtook SOD in newsstand sales). Some caveats:

A. Data come from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, and only are available free/to the public from 1998 forward (with 1997 data embedded)
B. Public data are limited to the top 100. Soap magazines dropped out of the top 100 in total circulation after 2002, and only Soap Opera Digest appeared in the top 100. So, I don't know about later data.
C. Looking at "single copy sales" (newsstand), the story is less bleak--it actually seems to show relative stability. 3-4 soap magazines appear in the top 100 in every year from 1997-present. Soap Opera Weekly dropped out of the top 100 in 2008 though, so I estimated its average newsstand circulation (at 100,000) for 2008. That may be an over-estimate. (The bleeding circulation for SOW may explain some of the Carolyn Hinsey sacking? Even though it was probably not her fault).

The figures are actually encouraging to me, because it suggests a kind of levelling off of circulation (relative to the shows themselves). From 1997-2000, the single-copy sales include Soap Opera Digest, Soap Opera Weekly, and Soap Opera Update. (In 1997-98, Soap Opera Magazine is also included). After 2000, Soap Opera Update disappears, but is replaced by Soaps in Depth (CBS and ABC) in the newsstand top-100. Interestingly, from 2005 on, Soaps in Depth (both versions) actually EXCEED Soap Opera Digest in newsstand sales.

Since the soap magazines held on better than the soaps themselves, it does make one wonder if viewers who "lapsed" in watching the shows continued to "keep up" by reading the magazines. And if this is the case, is this a good thing or a bad thing? Does the availability of spoilers, recaps and pictures actually hurt the original product?

If anyone is interested, I have the magazine-specific data, and can share it at a later date.

Total circulation of Soap Opera Digest during the years in which it appeared in the Audit Bureau Top 100 Total Circulation

Newsstand circulation of Soap Opera Digest from 1997-2008

Total newsstand circulation of all soap magazines listed in the Audit Bureau top-100, 1997-2008.
(Note, 2008 figure for Soap Opera Weekly is an estimate)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Cast Melody Thomas Scott as Beth Logan on B&B

The picture above is a dated composite of Beth and the Logan girls, created before the advent of good image manipulation software

Nelson Branco reports that Melody Thomas Scott is being written out of Y&R, since her contract negotiations are not going well.

I am dismayed.

This is the wrong thing to do. There are 20 (I'm not exaggerating) less interesting cast members who should be cut first...I'd give up 10-15 folks for Melody as Nikki. This (cutting core veterans for financial reasons) is the sickness that has killed the rest of daytime. It has been happening for a while on Y&R (Victoria Rowell, Jerry Douglas, Don Diamont), but this is the worst. Clearly, Eric Braeden is probably next. It's wrong, wrong wrong.

But, okay...even though this is just wrong, but I'm over it. Because the perfect role exists for Melody.

Melody as Beth Logan on B&B. Hear me out:

- Melody in catfights with Susan Flannery's Stephanie. Priceless.
- Melody as the mother to Heather Tom's Katie. SUPER-PRICELESS. Nikki and Victoria re-united.
- Melody as the mother to Jennifer Gareis' Donna (after cussing her out for years as Y&R's Grace Turner). Priceless
- Melody having confrontations with Don Diamont's Bill Spencer Jr. (after Nikki's many years with Brad Carlton). SUPER-PRICELESS.

Plus, Melody's skills at broad comedy and archness would fit in excellently in the campy B&B universe. I'd love to see her "counsel" grandchildren Rick and Bridget in their wicked romantic ways.

Sadly, Beth (save for a few days when she was played by Marla Adams -- Y&R's former Dina Mergeron) has been dull as dishwater. It's time to amp her up, and make her a mother SUITABLE for her Logan-slut daughters.

I just think Melody and Katherine Kelly Lang's Brooke would just SHINE in scenes! I'd love to see MTS's Beth constantly "coaching" Brooke in how to get her various men back.

I even think Melody sparring with Alley Mills' Pamela would be a hoot.

Universe, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make this happen! I'll even send money.