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The Survival of Soap Opera: Transformations for a New Media Era Hardcover – November 3, 2010
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From the Inside Flap
How the daytime drama format reaches or loses its audience in the Internet age
About the Author
Sam Ford, Bowling Green, Kentucky, is a research affiliate with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Convergence Culture Consortium and Director of Customer Insights for Peppercom Strategic Communications.
Abigail De Kosnik, San Francisco, California, is an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Berkeley Center for New Media and the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies.
C. Lee Harrington, Oxford, Ohio, is professor of sociology and a Women’s Studies Program Affiliate at Miami University. She has been conducting research on the daytime industry and soap fans since the late 1980s and is author of many published academic works on soaps, including Soap Fans with Denise D. Bielby.
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Top Customer Reviews
A genre that has been around since the time of Charles Dickens, the serialized drama, is at a major crossroads. Daytime soap operas that have been on the air for, literally, generations, are being snuffed out by the big-wig television executives.
Soap Operas have been around since television's infancy. First, in 15 minue formats, then a 30 minute format, and eventually to a 60 minute format. One show, Another World, was briefly at a 90 minute daily format in the late 1970s.
40 years ago, there were 19 daytime soaps on the three major television networks. As of January, 2012, these ranks will diminish to a mere FOUR...with all being produced on the West Coast.
Why is this happening to daytime shows while many of the most popular prime-time shows are following the soaps' tried and true formula of 'continuing drama?'
There are many reasons for the perceived decline in soap opera viewing, more women are working, as opposed to a half century ago, and today, with satellite and cable offerings, today's television viewer has, literally, hundreds of channels to choose from, rather than a mere handful.
This book offers a unique perspective on the crisis facing daytime...contributors including actors and writers from today's most popular shows, academics, as well as fans.
Earlier this year, two long-running shows, with a combined 84 years of broadcast history, were cancelled by ABC. Fan furor over these cancellations, over the next 12 weeks, brought about, yet a new chapter in daytime viewing, when ABC announced it had sold the shows to be airred on the internet.
I urge everyone to purchase this book, as it studies this unique American Popular Culture genre.
Fast forward to 2010; the highest rated soap, "The Young and The Restless", has a Nielsen number of 3.5 and garners an 11 share on a good week, meaning only five million viewers a day watch the denizens of Genoa City. The once great "General Hospital" fares even worse; it brings in usually a 1.8 Nielsen number and a 6% share of the audience. Where there were over a dozen soaps thirty years ago on American TV, there are now only six. Daytime mainstays "Guiding Light" and "As the World Turns" were cancelled recently and ad revenue for televised serials has dropped so low that the remaining six soaps have seen their budgets slashed. Popular actors like Deidre Hall, once one of the highest paid performers on soaps, have been fired to cut costs, and James Mitchell, formerly Palmer on "All My Children", once stated the budget at his show was so bad paper towels were no longer available in the men's bathroom!
Soaps as we know them are in dire need. "The Survival of Soap Opera: Transformations for a New Media Era" examines what these precious televison commodities need to do in order to survive the competitive television business. The book studies why soaps have floundered, what can be done to save them, and if there is a chance someday that TV serials will be a thing of the past. Soap actors, critics, and serial journalists are all interviewed and they give their take on how soaps can persevere.
If you a lover of serials or remotely interested in televison broadcasting in any form, this book is a must-have. Informative, thought-provoking, and intelligent, "The Survival of Soap Opera" belongs in everyone's home library as it is remarkable good reading.