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Viewing Single Post From: ABC Campaign Gives Washed-Up Soaps New Image

Jul 22 2008, 12:09 AM
The networks use the OJ excuse as a crutch. Yes, it didn't help matters but it's a minor issue at best in the broad scheme of things. Plus, in 1997, many soaps rebounded. I recall a SOD cover focusing on AMC, Days, and I think it was GL and how their ratings had surged. Sure, it went downhill from there but the writing and quality is more to blame for that. Days did very well in the 90's and saw some of it's strongest numbers after the OJ trial.

The networks will never stop using that excuse, just like they will use the "demographics have changed" and "more women aren't home during the day" excuses. While those are true and a little more justified, if they didn't spend more then a decade feeding fans events and action instead of the quality, character-driven writing that made soaps great, then the soaps may still be ok and we wouldn't see the ratings system being driven by stunts and gimmicks. A ratings decline may have still happened but maybe not like this.
I have that magazine from back in July 1997 where it had "Soaps Bounce Back!" on the cover with DAYS, AMC, and GL on the cover. The thing is, AMC and GL merely bounced back from a huge slump they suffered the past year. They rebounded, but soon went back to their previous numbers. AMC had fallen to an "anemic" (as SOD called it) 4.4 rating, but climbed up to a 5.0/5.1 during the Erica baby story. GL had a disastrous 1996, falling to a low of 3.3, but slowly climbed back up in '97 with a nice jump to 4.6 during the height of the Reva/Annie trial.

With 1997 seeming to be the last time soaps were *hot*, it should be noted the decline that began after the OJ trial was still going steadily down. Only GL managed to gain viewers during the course of 1997, according to TV Guide's year in review.

I still maintain that the OJ trial brought on the beginning to the ratings decline. The majority of the soaps lost HUGE numbers between the 1993-1994 to 1994-1995 seasons. Years ago, I bought a hefty bunch of old Soap Opera Weekly magazines from the early & mid-90's, and it's interesting to read about the panic in the industry during and after the OJ trial. That's when the networks and execs were scrambling to maintain the audience that was eroding so quickly during the trial. And that's when the writing started to get sloppier, storylines got wackier, and there was a revolving door of headwriters and EP's at many shows.
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