Soap ratings: Every show is down ... except the cancelled 'One Life to Live.' (Huh?)


Image Credit: Lou Rocco/ABC

Okay, maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea for ABC to yank All My Children from the schedule: For the 2010-11 season that ended May 22, the aging sudser was down 18% in the key women 18-49 demo (0.9 rating versus last year’s 1.1 rating). That makes it the lowest-rated soap in daytime, not to mention the least watched (2.4 million this season, down from last year’s 2.7 million). Sorry, Susan Lucci, but that’s just not good.

Remarkably, One Live to Live remained flat this season versus last (1.1) while its numbers went up slightly (from 2.5 million to 2.6 million). And it was the only soap not to dip in the key demo. Every show was down, including The Young and the Restless (1.6 versus last year’s 1.9), General Hospital (1.4 versus 1.5), Bold and the Beautiful (1.0 versus 1.1) and Days of Our Lives (1.2 versus 1.4). Each women 18-49 ratings point equals 659,000 viewers.

Y&R remained the most watched soap at 5.1 million, followed by Bold (3.1 million), General Hospital (2.8 million), and Days (2.7 million).

What’s most remarkable (or depressing, depending on your point of view) is how the soap audience continues to age. GH remains the youngest-skewing sudser in daytime, but its average age is still 51.3. Last year, it was 50.3.

Days is 52.9, down from last year’s 53.6. OLTL is 54.3, up from last year’s 53.4. Y&R is 57.9, up from last year’s 56.9.  And AMC is 56.7, up from last year’s 55.5. Bold is 58.7, up slightly from last year’s 58.4. (In comparison, the nets are a lot younger in primetime: NBC is 49.6, CBS is 55.1 and ABC is 51.5).

Age is a state of mind at @EWLynette. Follow me. 

Comments (73 total) Add your comment
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  • Heather

    “What’s most remarkable (or depressing, depending on your point of view) is how the soap audience continues to age.”
    Well who else is home at that time frame? Most people work during the day! Now if they’d take into account people who watch shows delayed or on other media (online, etc), I’m sure those numbers would be much different!

    • Jessica

      I agree! I am 25 and I watch my soaps on Soapnet–which they don’t count!

    • Thom Blake Castle

      The soap audience continues to age because the world’s population is getting older by the minute, “ever heard of the baby boomers?”. It’s no different from any other television broadcasts average age. This is just a spin on the “already beaten to death over and over by the media” daytime soap opera genre. I find it interesting that Days of our Lives average age viewer is 3 years less than CBS’s overall. Anyway, stories like this pick out bits and pieces that they want to tell and leave the rest so they can make something look worse than it is. Our society is aging. The people still watch TV after they turn 50 so they WILL skew the numbers a bit. BTW all the people under 50 I know that watch soaps watch them either on soapnet and DVR. The ones under 30 watch them online. If anything that is why the numbers for the daytime broadcasts are older.

      • tj

        Dude ur awesome. U always give great insight on the cancellations of the soaps. U put message boards in a tizzy. Some even sayin ur Frons. U rock!!!

    • Maura

      I’m 29 and I have to DVR it everyday b/c I work. I try to get down to the gym at work at 2 so I can watch OLTL live but those ratings don’t count because it’s not like Nielsen has a chip in every tv checking to see if I’m watching.. so it’s a messed up system. The numbers are a lot higher for sure however I highly doubt the exec’s care about the numbers.. it’s more about saving money with cheap silly shows.

  • Jan from MN

    You just watch the ratings go up when Thorsten Kaye (Zach) returns to AMC!!! His leaving the show was the single largest reason people stopped watching this show last year!! He’s the BEST EVER!!!

    • Maura

      Agreed. I completely lost interest in AMC when Thorsten Kaye left but I don’t get why they are writing his OLTL character back in to the show and he’s not returning.. He could’ve done both and rode off into the sunset as Patrick AND Zack. However, I do think AMC tanked itself putting all it’s stock in TK.

      • Christine

        Agreed, TK could’ve come back for a few episodes of OLTL and left with Marty. It would’ve been great to see him back on the show.

    • Christine

      I love TK, but couldn’t stand Zack. I was thrilled when he died, but I won’t mind him coming back now that the show is ending.

  • Lana

    Look at those average ages! These are the people who grew up WITH soaps and are still watching them; whether it be when they are aired or they tape and play later. I’m 51: GH and OLTL are the first soaps I remember watching with my Mom and Grandma; fond memories!! Now my kids are watching them, too, but will miss out on growing up as I did with that history. I’ll miss OLTL the most.

    • Penny

      Stupid Frons think people over the age of 40 dont watch tv. If that horrid GH would play their vets instead of killing them off (bye Alan) that show ratings would be higher than Y&R. Now if OLTL would bring back Evangeline, that would cause for even more viewers! Fake Todd/Evangline for 2012!!!!!!

      • Troy

        Amen to your comment about GH and the HORRID way they sideline/wrote off their vets.

      • Dave

        Um, Penny, they killed Evangeline off last year when Christian and Layla pulled her life support. Sorry.

    • Thom Blake Castle

      People have always been drawn to soaps. When you were a kid, and now. The only difference is that they can watch them online which allows them to watch at anytime that is convenient, not just in the afternoon. They aren’t counted in these figures BTW.

  • Flip

    For the way they have destroyed the character of Marty, OLTL deserved to be cancelled. Good riddance!

  • Flip

    Y&R has had the steepest drop in the demo, and the fact is they deserve it. Y&R has been awful under Maria Bell, Hogan Sheffer, and Scott Hamner. Glad to see my fellow 18-49 year olds are tuning out!

    • cattyfan


    • Thom Blake Castle

      @Flip: Your fellow 18-49 year olds are watching online. In January, Young and Restless was the #2 show viewed online of ALL television shows. It had 14 million additional viewers online. This is an incorrect article in that it only presents one side of the story without providing any inkling to suggest otherwise.

  • stu

    the young peeps r watching court shows.

  • mel

    Well I certainly am glad I stopped watching AMC and OLTL 23 years ago. Can you imagine how pissed I would be if had wasted all that time watching “my stories” only to see them cancelled prematurely?

    • @ mel

      That makes no sense. The shows stayed on the air for 23 years after you stopped watching, not soon after. Why would you be pissed?

  • maggie

    The ratings don’t reflect the other ways people can watch soaps. People can watch soaps online, and some are rerun on cable’s SoapNet. If they counted these, it would greatly increase the number of viewers, and decrease the median age.

  • Meghan

    I am 25 years old and I have been watching Days of our Lives since 1996 with my mom. I was just 10 years old. So yes, I think all viewers continue to age…I get the point they are trying to make that the average age is going up, but every single viewer watching is going to age year to year! If DVR viewing and online viewing at, etc, was taken into account I am sure the numbers would be quite different – as would the average age of viewers.

  • soapy

    I’m 37, and I watch all my soaps on the weekends via Tivo, just like everyone else my age that I know does. None of this gets included in the ratings, mind you.

    Also, the primetime average ages aren’t “much” younger…a couple years is not “much younger.”

  • Zzzzzz

    I wouldn’t mind so much about the canceling of the soaps if they were being replaced by something better. OLTL is very interesting right now but I have always thought it has had a wide demo range. I watched this with my mom and my daughter watches it with me now. It’s a guilty pleasure, admittedly…it’s not rocket science but rather like a satisfying…most of the time…beach read. Very sorry to see the end of these shows. While I will continue to watch the ABC shows I enjoy, it won’t be the afternoon replacements.

  • Mincha

    Three years from now they’ll probably all be gone. The networks will never see that kind of multi-generational loyalty again. Not that they care, obviously.

  • deedeedragons

    Can someone explain why in the U.K (with it’s much smaller population) roughly the same number of soaps rate a lot higher? Is it the fact they’re shown at night? Are they just more loyal?
    What is it? I don’t want all soaps to die here.

    • Casey

      I think it’s both of the reasons you said. Nobody is really home at the hours the soaps air. So, we watch them on Soapnet or we DVR. These methods of viewing don’t count torward the ratings. If these shows aired at 8 or 9, their audience may be bigger. Maybe even double. And British soaps are extremely well written compared to American ones. American soaps tend to hop around and make no sense(long lost evil twin? really, Y&R?!?). Add all these things together and that’s the difference between British and American soaps.

    • Luigi

      Doesn’t the UK also have far fewer TV channels than the US? When there’s more choice, the viewers get spread out across the higher number of channels. And yes, the main thing is that your soaps are shown at night when many more people are available to view them. I don’t think British soaps are particularly better than American soaps (American shows may be farfetched, but British ones are often boring).

  • psychoanalyzer

    Well the average age keeps going up because there aren’t enough new and younger viewers to pull that average down. And ratings…well, I’m not even going to touch that because some legitimately believe the numbers would be much higher if other outlets were counted (who said they aren’t)? I say this as someone who grew up on DOOL and recently became addicted to GH and OLTL. The shows just aren’t what they used to be, and even with outlets like online viewing and DVR, people just aren’t tuning in.

    • Thom Blake Castle

      People are tuning in. They are tuning in online, soapnet, and DVR. Ever since the online viewing started being offered free in 2006 the soaps have lost viewers, the younger ones. But they have gained them online. These numbers are for the afternoon broadcasts only. No other viewing option is counted in these numbers. Thats why it seems to skew older. The younger people work and view the soaps online or soapnet.

  • helen

    Ironically, the soaps killed their audiences by CHASING youth — by whittling away at their traditional pleasures (the deep family sagas, following beloved characters over time, etc.) in favor of faddish camera work, unimaginative storytelling and increased focus on only the youngest adult characters while allowing the older favorites who anchored the shows to slip farther into the background. This meant that the soaps stopped offering anything viewers couldn’t get (with higher production values) from nighttime TV. The audience has aged because the older viewers are the only ones who have invested enough time to stick with the soaps til the bitter end.

    • jules

      I don’t watch any of other shows, but GH is definitely guilty of this. They have decimated core characters and families.

    • Thom Blake Castle

      @helen: you are incorrect on all your assumptions. Soaps have always focused on youthful characters. That is what has kept this genre going for so long. The audiences have aged because with modern medicine, the people of the world are becoming OLDER and OLDER. Check it out, it’s not a secret that the people are living longer. Young people still watch soaps, but instead of working their day around the afternoon so they can watch them, they watch online!

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