Prognosis Isn't Good for Soap Operas

Things look bad
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2009 1:11 PM CST
Former 'Survivor' contestant Colby Donaldson (centre) stands by a pool table on the set of 'The Young and the Restless' during taping of the television show on July 27, 2004.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – There’s reason for the young to be restless, because the days of their lives may not last much longer. The economic downturn is driving soap operas to the brink of extinction, Portfolio reports. Not long ago there were 16 network soaps; now, just eight remain, and with ad revenue down, they’re being forced to slash their budgets and their casts.

“I see this moment as the turning point for soaps,” said a CBS executive. “No format has been hit harder.” Declining ad revenues aren’t the only problem. Audiences are aging and dwindling. Young and the Restless, the ratings king, averages just 5 million viewers, with a median age pushing 60. Worse, surveys show that many are poor, middle-aged African-American women—not the demographic advertisers swoon for.