Soap Operas: Watching The Ratings Slide. (UPDATED) image

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Updated since its original post on October 15, 2007:

On October 24, 2007, the Nielsen Company partnered with Google as a way to deliver a clearer report to their customers on just how many viewers are tuning in to commercials on a second-by-second basis! Another words, companies will now be able to tell who watches their ads and who fast-forwards through them!

Moving from strictly online ads, since May 2007 Google began selling their TV ads through EchoStar Communication with DISH Network, which has enabled them to monitor and analyze the results from set-top equipped boxes. Nielson will now come in with their knowledge and 'voice' among viewers and distribute the findings made up of these television audiences. Although the partnership will start out small, it is only apt to grow over the multi-year contract!

As previously reported...

Many fans have commented, "Ratings aren't what they used to be." It appears Soap Opera ratings seem to have declined over the past few years. Perhaps with so many working day shifts and the popularity of the Internet, many fans are getting their soap addiction fix via online in-depth recaps, from sites such as Soaps.com, perhaps others are using the podcasting downloads or the recently made available same-day viewing of full online episodes.

While some feel the ratings reflect the number of people who actually like the soap, in reality, media research companies, such as Nielsen, simply gather their ratings by the number of households watching the show on a daily basis. I guess this concept kind of goes hand in hand and we may think, “If a show is ranked number one then it must be liked by many.” True, but it still boils down to how many households are tuning in to that particular show – not necessarily how many people in each are watching it.

During the early years of television, the ratings system wasn’t as complex, due to the lack of technology – so unlike the excessive, ever-changing technology of today! Today, ratings are determined by metered samples, which is a feature stored in the in-home metering system through networks or cable providers, and by internal references, which are obtained through surveys from a certain number of participating households. A media research company then accumulates these figures (referred to as the ‘tuning data’) automatically, on a nightly basis, in order to deliver the most up-to-date ratings to television networks everywhere. Not only are show ratings retrieved by these companies, the companies also determine who makes up the audience, or households, watching these shows (referred to as the ‘demographic data’). Keep in mind, all research media companies base their ratings on a certain amount of households, which at times can include millions! These are where the ratios, that you see next to the show, come in – stating where the show placed.

Example:

1. (Placed first) The Young and the Restless at 3.7 (3.7 ratio = How many millions of households were included in the ratings research. In this case 3.7 million households out of X-amount tuned into Y&R. Which households to include in the ratings research vary and are determined by the show, its availability in a certain area, etc.)

To give you a little insight into how the ratings for each currently aired soap opera have fluctuated throughout the years, I’ve taken a little peek into the soap time-vault to bring you some fun facts…

The longest running soap, Guiding Light debuted on the radio in 1937 then hit television in 1952 where it rated fourth out of four soaps. As more shows were added to the daytime lineup, the shows ratings went as follows…

1955 – 2nd at 13.0 out of 8 soaps
1960 – 3rd at 9.9 out of 10 soaps
1965 – 2nd at 11.2 out of 17 soaps
1970 – 3rd at 9.7 out of 18 soaps
1975 – 6th at 8.1 out of 14 soaps (tied with AMC)
1980 – 5th at 8.2 out of 13 soaps
1985 – 6th at 6.8 out of 13 soaps
1990 – 8th at 5.4 out of 12 soaps
1995 – 8th at 4.0 out of 11 soaps
2000 – 8th at 3.1 out of 10 soaps
2005 – 8th at 2.4 out of 9 soaps
2007 – 8th at 1.8 out of 9 soaps

Debuting in 1956 As the World Turns rated seventh at 8.4 out of seven soaps. Throughout the years, its ratings varied at…

1960 – 1st at 10.4 out of 10 soaps
1965 – 1st at 13.9 out of 17 soaps
1970 – 1st at 12.4 out of 18 soaps
1975 – 1st at 9.4 out of 14 soaps
1980 – 6th at 7.5 out of 13 soaps
1985 – 7th at 6.7 out of 13 soaps
1990 – 5th at 5.8 out of 12 soaps
1995 – 7th at 4.4 out of 11 soaps
2000 – 6th at 3.3 out of 10 soaps
2005 – 5th at 2.7 out of 9 soaps
2007 - 6th at 2.1 out of 9 soaps

New to daytime in 1963, General Hospital rated ninth at 3.9 out of twelve soaps. As the years went by, the show held strong…

1965 – 7th at 7.3 out of 17 soaps
1970 – 6th at 9.5 out of 18 soaps (tied with Days)
1975 – 10th at 7.1 out of 14 soaps
1980 – 1st at 10.0 out of 13 soaps
1985 – 1st at 9.2 out of 13 soaps
1990 – 2nd at 7.4 out of 12 soaps
1995 – 5th at 4.7 out of 11 soaps
2000 – 3rd at 3.8 out of 10 soaps
2005 – 3rd at 2.9 out of 9 soaps
2007 – 3rd at 3.3 out of 9 soaps

Following suite in 1965, Days of Our Lives came in at tenth at 5.3 out of seventeen soaps. Fighting alongside everyone else, Days competed well…

1970 – 4th at 9.5 out of 18 soaps
1975 – 5th at 8.3 out of 14 soaps
1980 – 10th at an undisclosed ratio out of 13 soaps
1985 – 5th at 7.2 out of 13 soaps
1990 – 7th at 5.4 out of 12 soaps
1995 – 2nd at 5.8 out of 11 soaps
2000 – 4th at 3.6 out of 10 soaps
2005 – 4th at 2.8 out of 9 soaps
2007 - 7th at 1.9 out of 9 soaps

Like many debuting soaps, One Life to Live slide into the last slot during its first appearance in 1968 with a thirteenth place rating at 4.3 out of thirteen soaps. However, throughout the years, the show left last place behind…

1970 – 14th at 6.7 out of 19 soaps
1975 – 11th at 6.8 out of 14 soaps
1980 – 4th at 8.7 out of 14 soaps
1985 – 4th at 7.8 out of 13 soaps
1990 – 4th at 6.3 out of 12 soaps
1995 – 6th at 4.6 out of 11 soaps
2000 – 7th at 3.2 out of 10 soaps
2005 – 7th at 2.5 out of 9 soaps
2007 – 4th at 2.3 out of 9 soaps

In its debut in 1970, All My Children ranked seventeenth at 4.4 out of nineteen soaps. The years to come went as follows…

1975 – 6th at 8.1 out of 14 soaps (tied with GL)
1980 – 2nd at 9.3 out of 13 soaps
1985 – 3rd at 8.0 out of 13 soaps
1990 – 3rd at 6.5 out of 12 soaps
1995 – 4th at 5.3 out of 11 soaps
2000 – 5th at 3.4 out of 10 soaps
2005 – 6th at 2.6 out of 9 soaps
2007 – 5th at 2.2 out of 9 soaps

Daytime’s current number drama, The Young and the Restless made an interesting rise to the top over the years. In fact, December 10, 2006 marked the 936th consecutive week it remained in the number one ratings slot! Although it made its introduction in 1973 at seventeenth place at 5.0 out of seventeen soaps, the show definitely made its presence known in years to come…

1975 – 3rd at 8.6 out of 14 soaps
1980 – 3rd at 8.7 out of 13 soaps
1985 – 2nd at 8.3 out of 13 soaps
1990 – 1st at 8.0 out of 12 soaps
1995 – 1st at 7.7 out of 11 soaps
2000 – 1st at 6.7 out of 10 soaps
2005 – 1st at 5.2 out of 9 soaps
2007 - 1st at 3.7 out of 9 soaps

Coming on the scene in 1987 as a half hour soap, The Bold and the Beautiful was forced to compete with the ‘big boys’ that were occupying one hour slots and rated eighth at 5.6 out of fourteen soaps! As the years went by, the ratings stayed high…

1990 – 6th at 5.5 out of 11 soaps
1995 – 3rd at 5.4 out of 11 soaps
2000 – 2nd at 4.6 out of 10 soaps
2005 – 2nd at 3.4 out of 9 soaps
2007 – 2nd at 2.7 out of 9 soaps

The newest of today’s nine current US airing soaps, Passions debuted twelfth at 2.2 out of twelve soaps. Since then, the ‘soap with a twist of magic’ has captured the hearts of many! Because it’s so new, here’s a little more detailed documentation of its ratings to date…

2000 – 10th at 2.3 out of 10 soaps
2001 – 9th at 2.2 out of 10 soaps
2002 – 9th at 2.1 out of 10 soaps
2003 – 9th at 2.0 out of ten soaps
2004 – 9th at 2.0 out of 9 soaps
2005 – 2006 season – 9th at 1.9 out of 9 soaps
2007 – 9th at 1.3 out of 9 soaps

Since then, back on January 17, 2007, Soaps.com reported that the NBC network decided to part ways with the show. However, luckily, in April 2007, satellite cable provider DirecTV picked up the show, enabling Passions To Live On!

So there you have it fans… In the end, while some may think of ratings as just another confusing numbers game, they are in fact a very crucial part of our television viewing today! Although many shows will be around for years to come, because their ratings remain consistent and high, unfortunately, others will come and go. So next time someone in your household turns on your television, somewhere a machine is tallying in your viewing preferences because it’s you, the fans who keep a show alive!

Don’t forget to check our Soaps.com's Main Page where you’ll find the ratings posted!

Amy Mistretta
Assistant to the Editor-In-Chief
Editor: One Life to Live