A hypothetical question

Perhaps I’m just being way too logical here, but I have to ask this hypothetical question.

If CBS truly gave As The World Turns one final renewal, for one year only, and intends to obliterate more than 125 years of broadcasting history AND the last two standing pillars of Irna Phillips’ rich legacy, why wouldn’t they have renewed both Guiding Light and As The World Turns for one more year?

Shopping both shows together to a new home make for a far more attractive property, don’t you think? One soap is an island. Two soaps are a lineup. It makes so much more sense to offer a package deal to any potential new home for the shows.*

If CBS wants to move on to a new day in daytime, fine. I can respect that. But I don’t buy the old conventional wisdom – e.g., that networks will only cancel one soap at a time because of some old algorithm (or fear of pissing off too many fans).

It seems increasingly likely to me that CBS is being malicious about these shows that have made them so much money. It’s almost like a very twisted ex-boyfriend: I don’t want you, but I don’t want anyone else to have you, either…..

Maybe, in the light of not-incredibly-encouraging-news about GL’s future, I’m just wishing aloud for the impossible – that CBS decides to change its mind, says, “April Fools!” and gives GL a few more months of life.

It makes sense to me – but sadly, doesn’t seem to be logical to CBS programmers.

*Edited to add: Duh, I answered my own question here (with a little help from MarkH): This IS a business, and CBS isn’t in the business of putting these two shows in a position of strength so they can go off and find a new home. They don’t want to do Telenext any favors. It’s a business decision – I get it, but it sucks for the fans. (And the people who work so hard behind the scenes.)

13 thoughts on “A hypothetical question

  1. You bring up an excellent point Patrick. I’ve given up trying to understand why TPTB do the things they do the way they do them. I looked at the latest ratings today and it’s really upsetting. Is it really over for ATWT? I just keep thinking *maybe* they can turn things around in a year…or is that an impossible dream??

  2. Please take this as slightly humorous teasing: It looks like you’ve moved back into the denial and anger phases :-).

    It is actually a very interesting observation you have made. CBS is definitely not working WITH P&G to save these last two shows.

    That said, I really do not believe it is malicious. Objectively, if you look at where the ratings are, and where the advertising dollars have fallen to, it really seems like a pretty obvious cost-benefit analysis that got us to this point.

    I think that is the key issue. Where we are, with GL and ATWT, is inherently LOGICAL from a number-crunching perspective. But there is no heart in it. These are decisions made from the perspective of cold, hard business (CBS/Viacom is a business)…feelings are not here.

    Barbara Bloom will tell you GL lived longer than it should have, kept alive by sentimentality. If that is true, then what happened is that she got vetoed…by number crunchers above her pay grade who found these shows — and more importantly, their trajectories — to be unsustainable.

    I keep one eye on ATWT, having been one of those fair-weather fans brought to the show by Nuke. By many accounts, that show has stopped trying. Which is unfortunate. Even if death is nigh, why not use that to energize fans for a glorious goodbye. Imagine…a carefully planned one year exit, to go out on top. With that known ending, you no longer have to worry about demos or growing ratings. You’re dying, so you might as well please your long-term loyal fans. What a glorious year that would be! Kim and Lucinda and Lisa and Barbara and Bob on most days of the week, offering support and even driving story! That’s the way to do it…. The “one-year death sentence” could be a wonderful thing for fans, if only the show could embrace it.

    You’re right, Mark, I have become angry again. Mainly because it looks like GL’s efforts to find a new home aren’t succeeding.

    I don’t think anyone “owes” anyone anything here, and certainly feelings aren’t part of the package. That’s why they’ve hobbled Telenext’s ability to market the shows as a package. Of course they don’t want them to go off, even to cable, and become competition.

    I wish ATWT had that mindset. It’s been a glorious ride at GL to see a lot of things and a lot of scenes that, quite frankly, I thought I’d never get the chance to see – or see again!

  3. I think the reason CBS didn’t dump both ATWT and GL at the same time was due to not having two hours of programming in place for those time slots. The last thing CBS wants to do is give yet another hour back to the affiliates and The Early Show is just not popular enough to extend into a third hour.

    If CBS had any sort of ownership or corporate synergy with P&G or Telenext, that would give CBS revenue in another market (like DVD sales) I think what you said makes sense. Since they don’t, I agree with MarkH.

  4. All of which begs the question…do you think there’d be a different outcome if P&G had agreed to sell their soaps to the nets?

    I think it might have helped. Not that ABC is any grand example of soapdom, but their shows don’t seem in such imminent danger of cancellation. (Although, for all I know, I’ll be eating those words next year).

    It may have, though if they’d been sold long ago, who knows what they’d be like content-wise today.

  5. I just have one question for you, Patrick – were we separated at birth? Seriously…I’m pretty sure you’re the brother I always wanted.

    This great piece you’ve written seals the deal: if and when you’re in the Bay Area, we must meet for a drink or three and dish the soap dirt.

    I think we WERE separated at birth! (I had a twin sister, y’know….)
    I may be in SF this year yet – and you should come visit Chicago!

  6. I agree with what you said, Mark, to a point! GL has a very popular storyline now with Otalia going on that alot of fans love so why can’t GL get at least one more year to prove and show that their ratings will go up cuz I’m being optimistic and think they will or would have!! Don’t cancel GL and if you think you have to, don’t make it so hard for them to find a new home!! Just cuz you don’t want them and can throw them away so easy after the actors and actresses have worked so hard for you for so many years doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be able to have a nice, happy home where they’d get treated better!!!

  7. Television is indeed a business and it is being run in a poor way. Advertising dollars being determined by an antiquated and flawed ratings system. I know more people watch daytime drama than is being extrapolated by the current ratings system.

    Then the problem is not so much that there are more viewers but how they watch the shows. They do not watch the ads that the advertisers are paying to be shown during the commercial breaks. They FF on their DVR’s. They watch on the internet with few commercials or on YouTube.

    So the advertisers need to figure out how to get the advertising into the show. P&G does a good job with GL’s little store. I always see the Duracell batteries, the Charmin, the Pringles, and the Halls cough drops. And I am a loyal P&G product purchaser but I was raised on their soaps so it just comes naturally.

    Why can’t P&G take GL to the internet? Is it really so cost prohibitive? Would they lose a lot of audience? P&G produces a lot of products. They are their own sponsor.

    With a few adjustments, I think GL could go to the net but ATWT is not at that point yet. I think P&G are trying to find a network for GL in anticipation of ATWT needing a home and right now ATWT has too big of a budget to handle being on the internet. They would have to gut the show quickly and drasctically.

    Anyway, I think it is just sad that a show like GL has had to endure the difficulties of these last few years because television and advertising executives are antiquated and unable to adjust their business to the new era of television viewing.

  8. Really great point Patrick. I know it’s a business. It’s about making money and keeping CBS “alive”. BUT it’s also about keeping a relationship with the viewers and keeping us happy as well. CBS the relationship is not going well. And making horrible program decisions like putting Guiding Light up against Oprah in some cities and changing view times continuously doesn’t help the survival of the show. CBS set up Guiding Light to fail. I am so dissapointed.

  9. You make a good point, Patrick, and I agree that CBS is doing what CBS thinks is best for them as a business as ‘nasty’ as that may be. Being a Guiding Light fan, it is no surprise that I do not agree with it, and the disrespect they have shown Guiding Light and its fans. However, I am still in a happy campaigning place, and far away from the ledge, due in great part to the love and support over at Big Purple Dreams. We love the show as a whole as well as the Otalia storyline, and I know that We Will Keep The Light Shining!

    Thank you for showing us so much support, Patrick. It means so much.

  10. Yes it is a business but CBS should be aware that the ratings system is full of horse pucky. It doesn’t show the truth of how many people actually watch GL & love GL. I think CBS is being mean. They should have faith in there shows like any other network but sadly these days they don’t. It’s not about love anymore it’s about the love of money & how much you can get. Aren’t the ratings going up in part of the Otalia storyline? CBS should give GL more time. I think when Gl gets picked up by another network CBS will regret that they ever canceled it.

  11. Patrick, I agree with you on many levels here! … and Mark, you make a valid point, as well! In my opinion, CBS made its decision, and now they will have to live with it. I am so very hopeful that Guiding Light will find a new home. I feel as though once the show moves to its new destination, that it will be evident that the current rating system has done an injustice to the true depth of viewership! CBS will be mourning for their own loss at that time. A business decision should be based on hard facts and numbers, but something must be done to rectify the fact that the numbers on paper don’t really represent the full audience! They have to be fully aware that the rating system is antiquated and inaccurate! May Guiding Light prosper elsewhere!

  12. TV is a business, but the Nielson ratings are outdated. P&G products are bought by millions of people every day. Until GL was canceled did not realize how many P&G products I buy. Also, is GL wasn’t making P&G money they would not be trying to find the show a new home. I would think a cable channel would like to have GL, they have a loyal built in fanbase. Plus new viewer with the Otalia S/L. JMO

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