The coronavirus has most of us locked down in our homes, and for those seeking routine, diving into the daily soaps can provide some escapist comfort. But Vulture warns that the most popular daytime TV dramas are perilously close to running out of episodes they filmed before the shutdown, forcing them to scramble to hold onto their audiences via alternative programming. The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, both on CBS, will see their new episodes depleted as of Thursday, while ABC's General Hospital will likely run out in May. Days of Our Lives, which airs on NBC, is in a somewhat better position, with enough shows to last through the summer and into mid-October, per the Wrap, which notes it had just been set to film its Halloween episode in March when the virus shut everything down.
Once new episodes are gone, the networks will fill the time slots with "classic" episodes featuring long-gone stars, documentary specials and other never-before-seen footage, extended flashbacks, and other themed events, among other options. The Wrap notes that despite these production woes, there is some good news: Soap operas are seeing a viewership they haven't experienced in some time. Per TVLine, the week of March 23 gave B&B and General Hospital their best numbers in two years: around 250,000 and 286,000 more viewers than the same week from last year, respectively. Days gained 134,000 from 2019. Meanwhile, Y&R picked up nearly 770,000 more viewers during this week than it had the week of March 16. (Read more soap operas stories.)