Last week all four daytime soaps were preempted in part or whole at least once by presidential news conferences or the like. It left a bad taste in many soap fans mouths, especially those of General Hospital, which saw the most extensive interruption.
To Preempt or Not to Preempt
Aside from truly monumental news, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 or the the shooting in Houston yesterday, it’s questionable whether coverage of less significant events need interrupt daytime dramas. After all, the evening news, both local and national, will likely cover the events. Also, there are cable channels dedicated to round-the-clock news coverage.
Why Preemptions Matter
Yours truly researched this matter for a Master’s thesis on the convergence of soap opera fandom and online activism in the Save Our Soaps movement. That movement sprung up in response to the cancellations of All My Children and One Life to Live in 2011 and 2012.
I found that scholars and soap industry leaders alike felt the preemptions of soap operas in favor of coverage of the OJ Simpson trial were bad news for daytime serials. First, those preemptions eroded the audience for soaps by causing many to fail to pick back up with their shows after the trial ended. Second, the real life salacious, scandalous drama told of in the Simpson trial showed networks that they need not invest in actors and screenwriters, when “real life” can attract viewers too. Hence, large-scale soap cancellations began in 2009 and the fear of them in the soap community continues to this day. Also, reality TV was born and damaged the audience for scripted television as a whole, and certainly that for soap operas.
What We Can Do
Our friends at the Facebook group Save AMC and OLTL have once again done daytime fans a great service. They compiled a list of tasks we can perform and the contact information needed to do so to show ABC a sizable, loyal audience for GH still exists. By partaking in these actions, they said, and we at Soap Cities agree, we can help make sure that the frequent preemptions soaps have seen lately won’t affect GH. Their tasks are aimed at safeguarding General Hospital (GH) and target ABC network executives, as GH saw the most extensive preemptions recently. See their full Facebook post below.
Fortunately, NBC renewed Days of Our Lives for a 52nd season this week. And the CBS soaps enjoy consistently high ratings, which hopefully ensures them a place in that network’s daytime lineup for a long time to come.
If preemptions continue to plague soap operas, though, check back with Soap Cities for more on what you can do to see that daytime gets the respect it deserves.
Give us your input in the comment section below. Check back with Soap Cities for more GH spoilers, recaps, news, and fun! Follow us on Twitter at @soapcities, on Instagram at @soapcities, and come chat with us in our Facebook group. Catch “General Hosptial” weekdays on ABC.