The fall of the soap opera genre is making way for the rise of the daytime talk show genre. For a variety of reasons, more than 20 daytime talk shows will premiere this fall season.
With 20 hours of programming, it’s no surprise the genre will hold a topic for nearly every consumer interest. From lifestyle and cooking to health, news and most everything in between — daytime is saturated.
Network Programming Strategy
This has less to do with filling Oprah’s shoes and is more to do with economics. While a daily dramatic show costs about $50 million to produce annually, a talk show can be half that price tag. And in a down economy, the low ratings and repetitive story lines are not resonating with contemporary daytime viewers. With talk shows coming in at a fraction of the cost, even a talk show with low ratings is easier to shoulder financially.
A Wide Field of Competition
But the question has to be asked with this many shows vying for consumer attention: “Are there enough eyeballs to watch 20 shows?” With one of the strongest season openings for talk shows in recent years, the early analysis looks like there is as much demand as supply.
Newcomer Katie Couric had the best debut in 10 years. Steve Harvey is off to a strong start. And the recent addition of former NFL star Michael Strahan has given “Live With Kelly & Michael” its best premiere week in six years. Even a revamped “Anderson Live” debuted to higher ratings than its season one opener. And of course, daytime veteran “Ellen” saw its highest ratings since the 2006 season.
End of One Era, the Beginning of Another
The daytime landscape has changed dramatically over the past 10-15 years. This is the first time since about 1953 that there are only four soap operas on daytime television: “The Young and the Restless,” “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “Days of Our Lives” and “General Hospital.”
Can too much change be a bad thing? Daytime used to consist of about 50 percent soaps, 30 percent game shows and 20 percent talk shows. With just a handful of soaps and game shows remaining, talk-reality shows make up 60 percent of the daypart. As with any new season, some shows will be weeded out. But more talk shows are already in production for 2013, including “The Queen Latifah Show,” “Giada and Bobby” and “Bethenny.”
Media is Power will be monitoring how the shows perform to see if this is just a trend designed to save networks money, or if it’s a longer-term shift to meet changing audience needs. Either way, there will be casualties with this many shows available. Until then, talk shows are the new soap opera.
Image courtesy of Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Written with contributions from members of Empower MediaMarketing’s broadcast media team, including Amanda Birck, Michelle Dietz, Lindy Sieker, Angie Neal, Shannon Constable and Rhonda McLeod. Posted By Kevin Dugan on behalf of this team.