By Michele

It used to be that watching One Life To Live brought me joy.

Lately I watch it with great sadness and trepidation.

The reason: I’m so afraid that OLTL is next on the chopping block – that it will be the next soap opera to be cancelled.

I know it sounds weird to say that I’m afraid of a soap being cancelled, but the truth is…I AM afraid.

It’s because, over the years, watching OLTL has been a source of comfort to me – a comfort in times of stress….in times of sadness.

No matter what else was going on in my life, that escape to Llanview helped me forget (or at least put in the back of mind) my problems.

I started watching in high school – a time of great angst in itself.

But, somehow, when I came home and was transported to Llanview, for that half-hour (at that time) my cares and troubles of the day were forgotten.

Instead, as I watched, I became involved in the lives of The Lords, The Siegels, The Woleks and The Grays.

I experienced their joys, their sorrows and, of course, their drama.

And, somehow along the way, I forgot about my own troubles.

Oh how I miss those days of sets that included the newsroom at The Banner and Wanda’s Diner. Remember those?

How about the time OLTL filmed in Odyssey House, an actual drug rehab located in New York City?

The 1970 storyline brought drug-addicted Cathy Craig to Odyssey House, where she interacted with real drug addicts in the rehab and the director, Dr. Judianne Densen-Gerber, appeared on camera running a group therapy session.

It truely was riveting.

There were other groundbreaking storylines back then too.

The storylines were fleshed out and the drama revolved around it’s core families day-in and day-out.

One of THE most memorable scenes in soap opera history occurred on OLTL when Judith Light as Karen Wolek breaks down on the witness stand as she admits to working as a prostitute.

Check it out below – circa 1979.

Although I’m not always happy with OLTL’s storylines these days, it is – and always has been – my favorite soap.

So why is it constantly coming in the bottom of the ratings? That’s what I don’t get.

There have been rumors swirling for quite some time that OLTL is next on the chopping block.

And with three soaps turning off the lights recently, Passions (2008), Guiding Light (2009) and As The World Turns (2010), could OLTL BE the next one to go?

You know things are bad when your non-soap watching colleague asks you if OLTL is going to be cancelled.

Last week’s Entertainment Weekly had a two-page spread with the headline “Soaps: How Long With They Last?”

The photo contained headstones of the recently departed soaps with the start and end dates. The OLTL headstone had 1968- with the words “Hang in there, Llanview!”

Now that’s serious when soaps get the attention of the main stream media.

According to the EW article, soap ratings have been in decline since the early 90’s, which makes sense on one hand because women have been an integral part of the work force for the past two decades. And, let’s face it, women historically make up the majority of soap watchers.

But with the advent of the VCR followed by TIVO, DVR and let’s not forget SOAPnet, one would think that would help people keep up their soap watching.

Budget cuts translated into firing the high-salaried vets on some soaps or forcing the vets who stayed to take pay cuts. Those reportedly taking pay cuts in December 2008 included the Diva of Daytime Susan Lucci, who plays the iconic Erica Kane on All My Children. Now THAT’s serious stuff!

As more cost-cutting measures, networks are axing the soap operas and replacing them with talk shows or game shows, which are must less expensive to produce.

I can’t really see those types of shows improving ratings, though. I, for one, will not be watching either talk shows or game shows – TIVO’d or otherwise – if my beloved soaps are canned.

What about you?

7 Responses to “Say it isn’t so. Is OLTL next to go?”

  1. Hi Michele!

    I don’t really follow OLTL that much but I definitely think we already have too many talk shows and game shows as it is. I can’t see enough people being interested in those for it to matter that much about them being cost efficient. What good does it do to save money if no one is turning the tv on anyway? lol! And I agree with you about the tivo, VCR, and all that. I have always recorded my soaps if I was going to miss them. I thought the point of having all that technology was so you wouldn’t miss your favorite shows when you were away from home.

    Paula

  2. Hi Paula!
    You hit the nail on the head with this line – “What good does it do to save money if no one is turning the tv on anyway?”
    So true, so true! And there are way too many talk shows and game shows….I tell ya, on the rare occasion that I am home on a weekday, I never watch the talk shows or game shows. Soap fans are So Loyal. Networks are going to be very sorry if they kill the soap genre.
    Thanks for posting!
    Michele

  3. I totally agree. Soaps can be a source of comfort in difficult times — with all the drama that our favorite characters go through, I think we look at them as a source of hope that things will get better.

    The ratings system is completely messed up. Everyone raves about OLTL and I know that almost every OLTL fan I have ever talked to watches the show on SOAPnet or records it. I agree that I don’t see how it ends up with low ratings when almost everyone is always talking about it!

    I almost hate to say it but it might be hurting OLTL that some people watch edits of the shows on YouTube. I DO NOT want ABC/Disney to start pulling fan videos and episode edits down from YouTube — because I think they would actually LOSE viewers who get caught up with historical story-lines there, but I know for a fact that fans of certain characters will wait until their character’s scenes are cut out and posted before they watch.

    The ratings system doesn’t take THAT into account. ABC needs to look at the bigger picture. In addition to the ratings, how many people watch online? How many people Tweet about it? What shows do soap journalists enjoy the most?

  4. Hi Jen!
    You’ve made all good, valid points. I’ll be the first one to say – where the heck do they get the ratings from? I thought that – once upon a time – they surveyed people…but I’m not really sure how they actually figure those things out these days.
    I think they should take everything into account when posting ratings.
    Thanks for posting!
    Michele

  5. They actually have things inside of the cable boxes now to see what shows are watched. It still doesn’t factor in DVR, VCR recordings, TiVO or even watching soaps on the internet. It’s one of the reasons why Guiding Light and As the World Turns were canceled – the low ratings started with the invention of VCR recordings. Then, the DVR, TiVO and internet came along and ratings dropped even more. The ratings are only so low because it only counts who watches it live.

  6. Hi Joshua,

    I didn’t know they can track – thru cable boxes – what shows people watch, but it does make sense. They should find a way to track watchers thru DVR, TIVO etc, which would make ratings more accurate.
    They should look on the internet and see just how many fans are talking about soaps through blogs, message boards, etc and then they wouldn’t cancel our beloved soaps!
    Thanks for posting 🙂
    Michele

  7. Don’t networks EVER learn their lesson? I started watching OLTL consistently when Another World was cancelled & just refused to support Passions or whatever show they decided to put on in that timeslot. Well now look, Passionis is gone too (no offense to their fans) but why lose fans you know you have for the unknown?

    I started watching OLTL regularly when Skye (Robin Christopher) came to the show & stayed even after she left. I will really miss OLTL if it goes away. My mom got some kinda survey from Nielson recently and I told her to write AMC & OLTL down even though she doesn’t watch, hoping it’ll help those shows even in some small way.

    To Joshua – thanks for confirming what I already suspected. Even when I’m watching DVR stuff I put the channel on something I would be watching or taping just in case someone’s keeping track, glad to know it could make a difference somehow.