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As the Ratings Fall

This is a guest post from Lisa Manhire, Senior Content Manager of Broadcast Monitoring and Hibo Aden, Supervisor of Media Research at Cision.

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

As a loyal viewer of a daytime drama, I was disappointed when I heard that All My Children and One Life to Live were cancelled a few months back.  AMC’s final episode will air later this month and OLTL will end in January.  My show is safe (for now), but as networks continue to slash budgets and look for fresh, new programming is it only a matter of time before all soaps become a thing of the past?

With these cancellations, ABC has taken a page from the CBS playbook.  It was only a year ago that CBS dropped As the World Turns and filled the timeslot with The Talk.  Replacing AMC will be The Chew, a lifestyle show hosted by a panel of food experts such as Mario Batali.  In January, we can look forward to a health and lifestyle show called The Revolution, to replace OLTL.  In an official press release, ABC says that the new shows will “expand the network’s focus to include more programming that is informative and authentic  and centers on transformation, food and lifestyle.”

Soap fans may be distraught, but this is a great move for ABC.  Lifestyle programming is hugely popular now.  The airwaves are saturated with food/health-focused shows, but viewers seemingly can’t get enough.  There will be an unlimited number of show topics with guests looking to promote their latest products and highlight their brand to a daytime audience.

Pitching opportunities for the upcoming lifestyle shows are far less limited than the newscasts at your local ABC affiliate, which are primarily interested in niche topics relevant to the viewing area. With a larger general audience, PR professionals have a broader audience to appeal to, which can lead to a more successful campaign.

PR Professionals should see this as a great opportunity to expand brand awareness.  According to Brian Frons, President, Daytime, Disney-ABC Television Group ,“We are taking this bold step to expand our business because viewers are looking for different types of programming these days. They are telling us there is room for informative, authentic and fun shows that are relatable, offer a wide variety of opinions and focus on ‘real life’ takeaways.” Frons goes on to say, “They [The Chew and The Revolution] will also provide enormous opportunity for the creation of ancillary businesses and growth.” There are millions of viewers out there who could care less about soap operas who might be willing to take a moment and enjoy The Chew.

The other factor in all of this is the loss of The Oprah Winfrey Show in May 2011.  The majority of stations that aired Oprah were ABC affiliates.  The network may have seen The Chew and The Revolution as programs that would help retain Oprah’s faithful audience.  Many stations have also decided to add a new local newscast in Oprah’s old 4pm timeslot.  This move sounds like a good idea; grab the viewer before they switch to another station for the traditional 5pm news.  Producing local news is also cheaper than paying to add a syndicated program for the timeslot.  This hasn’t worked for all stations though.  KCNC in Denver has already cancelled their 4pm newscast after just three months on the air.

Whether or not these moves will help or hurt ABC Daytime has yet to be determined, but I’m excited to see how it turns out.  Let’s just hope CBS doesn’t get any more ideas, I can’t lose my daily fix of The Young and the Restless!

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