What Killed the Soap Opera
Working women, reality TV, and 24-hour news, among other things
By M. Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2010 6:48 PM CDT
Herb Nelson, Ellen Demming, Susan Douglas, and Lyle Sudrow in the premiere TV broadcast of "Guiding Light," June 30, 1952. After 72 years on the air, the show aired its last episode Sept. 18, 2009.   (AP Photo/CBS Archive)
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(Newser) – With the Sept. 17 finale of As the World Turns looming—and View clone The Talk ready to replace it—only six soap operas are still on the air. The genre is weak and possibly headed for extinction, largely because ad spending is in freefall. Advertising Age tries to figure out why and comes up with three theories:

  • Women have other things to do: The target audience for daytime drama is women, who are increasingly employed outside the home and often outearning their spouses.

  • Reality TV and social networking: Other genres and modes of content delivery, fictional and non, are ensuring viewers' lives have plenty of drama without soaps.
  • The cable universe: Between the 24-hour news channels, widespread DIY programming, and regular old reruns, viewers have more choices than ever before. Some options get squeezed out, and one appears to be soap operas.