NBC’s not ready to say goodbye to the daytime soap genre just yet. The network just announced today that it picked up Days of our Lives for its 45th season, which will keep the sudser on the network through the 2010-11 television season. The show is averaging 3.3 million viewers — up 10 percent over last season — and is tied for second place among women 18-49 and women 18-34. Says Bruce Evans, the network’s senior vice president of drama programming, “The producers, cast and crew have worked tirelessly to make Days the ratings success it is today. Today’s renewal is a true testament to all of their hard work. We could not be more delighted for them and for the multiple generations of fiercely loyal Days of our Lives fans.”
Days will celebrate its 45th anniversary on Nov. 8.
Word of the pickup on Days couldn’t have come at a better time for the ailing soap opera genre, which is preparing for the departure of As the World Turns in September. With more fans abandoning the day part (total viewer averages for soaps on the Big Three have dropped 20 percent since 1999), the networks have been in cost-cutting mode lately, with many of the daytime actors having to take hefty pay cuts. Even Days now operates under a lean $1 million-per-week budget after dropping pricey stars like Deidre Hall.
But there can be an upside to making soaps leaner and meaner. NBC co-chairman Marc Graboff told EW in January that “when you force budget cuts, you force creative decisions that are good for the show.”