Days of Our Lives hits Ratings Low; Cancellation of ABC Soaps All My Children and One Life to Live Puts Renewed Focus on Ratings

A few weeks ago, for the week ended 1 April, 2011, Days of Our Lives hit a new low in the ratings war for total viewers.  (Read what was going on that week).
Viewer numbers rebounded the following week to close on average numbers (Read that week’s recap), but it’s hard to dismiss further ratings falls in light of ABC’s recent cancellation of two of its long-lived daytime soap operas: All My Children and One Life to Live.
ABC executives cited changing viewer preferences as the catalyst for the surprise double axing, with viewers eyeballs now firmly fixed on reality TV and talk TV rather than daytime soap operas.  ABC’s move will leave just 4 soap operas on the air.
And on a year to date basis, Days of Our Lives is running fourth in the ratings race amongst daytime soap operas.  The only soaps running behind it?  You guessed it.  The recently cancelled All My Children and One Live to Live.
Households 2010 – (YTD September 2010 – April 3 2011)
1.         Y&R                 3.6
2.         B&B                 2.2
3.         GH                  2.1
4.         DAYS               2.0
5.         OLTL                1.9
5.         AMC                1.9
The axing of longtime soaps All My Children and One Life to Live serves as a timely reminder that television is a numbers game.  Networks make money by selling the advertising time in a TV show.  The more people that watch, the more the space can be sold for.  Simple mathematics really. 
And a quick look at the ratings history for Days of Our Lives tells shows that not only are soap opera numbers declining, but so are the number of eyeballs tuning in every day, making competition amongst the remaining soaps fierce. 
The following Days of Our Lives ratings numbers have been sourced from Wikipedia, and are based on historical Nielsen ratings.  Ratings Seasons run from September to September. 
Days of our Lives first aired on November 8, 1965, in the 1965 ratings season, outperforming five other soap operas that debuted that season.   Three of those also ended in 1965, and all of 1965 premiere’s, save Days of Our Lives were off the air by the end of the 1970 ratings season.
Placed in tabular form it is easy to see the story that the numbers tell….

Ratings Year/Season
No of Soaps
Days of our Lives Position
Points
Comments
1965
16
10
5.3
Five other soap operas debuted in 1965:
Dark Shadows (Final 1970)
Morning Star (Final 1965)
Paradise Bay (Final 1965)
The Nurses (Final 1966)
Never Too Young (Final 1966)
1970
18
4
9.5
Tied for 4th with:
Another World
General Hospital
1973
18
1
9.7
Tied for 1st with:
As The World Turns
1975
14
4
8.3
Tied for 4th with:
Search For Tomorrow
1980
12
9
5.6
1983
14
7
7.1
1984
6
7.1
Tied for 6th with:
As The World Turns
1985
13
5
7.2
1988
13
5
6.5
Timeslot change
1990
7
2
5.2
Tied for 2nd with:
Guiding Light
1992
11
8
4.9
1993
10
6
5.6
Tied for 6th with:
One Life To Live
1995
11
2
5.8
Held on to 2nd place until 1999
1999
11
3
4.2
Held onto 3rd   place until 2002
2002
10
4
3.1
Held onto 4th until 2004
2004
9
5
2.7
Tied for 5th with:
One Life To Live
As The World Turns
2005
9
4
2.6
Tied for 4th with:
All My Children
One Life to Live
As The World Turns
2006
9
6
2.3
Tied for 6th with:
As The World Turns
2007
8
5
2.1
Tied for 5th with:
One Life to Live
All My Children
2008
8
3
2.2
2009
7
3
2.2
Most recent full ratings year

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