Monday, July 9, 2012

ABC is risking further viewer alienation........

For as long as I can remember, General Hospital, the lone remaining daytime soap opera on ABC's schedule, has always aired at 3 pm (ET). So why is ABC tinkering with a long standing tradition that made them the #1 daytime network during the 80's?

It's not happening right away, but rather, two months down the road. After The Revolution, a over-hyped yack-fest, launched in January to replace One Life to Live, viewers turned away in droves, such that ABC was forced to cancel Revolution, with the last episode airing last Friday. Today, Good Afternoon, America, a short-term PM twin of Good Morning, America, begins a 2 month run in the same spot vacated  by Revolution & One Life to Live, but that isn't the story. Come September 17, General Hospital moves to 2 to make room for Katie Couric's new talk show.

Ok, I get it. Katie's still a draw in the minds of network suits, who are willing to look past her failure to elevate the CBS Evening News out of the basement while anchoring that program. That said, those same suits feel she is more of a fit at 3 than at 2, but there's one other reason that those suits won't cop to.

It's called the cuteness factor.

In some parts of the country, including my home district, Rachael Ray's talk show airs at 3. You can't escape the grown-up Girl Scout who coined the words, "Delish!" & "Yummo!" on her Food Network shows. That cute-as-a-button face adorns her monthly magazine, Everyday With Rachael Ray. Katie Couric projected the image of a tomboyish, girl-next-door type when she was on the cover of TV Guide many moons ago during her run on Today. Sure, she's older, but she still has a little of that sparkle to her. ABC is banking on nabbing those viewers who used to wake up with Katie, hoping to find some of them, at least, at home either  after or before going to work. You can just imagine a sweeps stunt in November that has both Rachael & Katie in the kitchen, and one of them's bound to be making cookies.

The problem is, ABC isn't paying attention to the erosion in viewers since One Life to Live left. Moving General Hospital to accomodate Katie is not the answer. Yes, soap operas are a dying breed, but the fan base for the ones that remain happen to be fiercely loyal. Waiting until primetime to catch the reruns on SoapNet doesn't cut it with them as much as ABC/Disney thinks it does. By taking General Hospital out of its long-time home, ABC is basically ceding that their viewers likely will wait until later.

I get it. It's all about demographics and ad revenues as much as ratings, but why do the older viewers keep getting the shaft? All ABC wants to do is lure the young adult demo away from not only Rachael, but also Dr. Phil and other yackers. I can think of a better solution. How about reviving some old game shows? It's worked for CBS, so why not ABC?

Of course, that's asking too much of a generation conditioned to think with their calculators........


magicdog said...

They say the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over again expecting a different reseult. Apparently the execs seem to think Katie's got it going but unfortunately, not only are they insane, but they're still about 25 years behind the times.

There are more options for news and entertainment and Katie isn't bringing it. She failed to catch on as Dan Rather's replacement because people don't watch the Dan Rathers of the world anymore. With other news outlets and the web, they're seriously out of date.

The other problem is there's not that mmany people watching TV in real time anymore. People will DVR what they like, and it's not always network fare. Plus, people also rent or download material, so it just doesn't pay.

hobbyfan said...

I will invoke Santayana again, as I refer to the failure of Katie's predecessor on Today, Jane Pauley, to catch on doing her own show. Lasted one season or less, as I recall.

The problem with older network execs is exactly what you describe. Out of touch. They don't want to put her on 20/20 as lead anchor just yet, though that might be the safest place for her. They might be of the notion that, for a sweeps period, they'd have her work out with Jane Fonda, with both of them in leotards, hoping the teenage boys will tune in to see a couple of older women sweat on national television.

Hold that thought. There might be Disney suits reading this.