December 3rd, 2010 09:58 EST
General Hospital Plummets to An All Time Low
For the ratings week of November 15-19, 2010, General Hospital (GH) lost 184,000 viewers from the previous week, coming in last among all soap operas in total viewers for the first time this year and, many think, for the first time in its history. When asked if GH had placed last in the era before Gloria Monty, Xavier Toups, ratings guru and the co-founder of Soap Opera Network stated, I think this could be the first time ever that GH is the least viewed soap.
By a large margin, GH lost more viewers in both total viewers and the Women 18-49 demographic than any other soap opera while some other soap operas gained viewers for the week. In addition, GH`s market share of 5 was the lowest of any soap. GH was the worst performing soap opera for the month of October in the 18-49 demographic, losing more viewers in October than any other soap opera. To date, the month of November has been just as disappointing, averaging only 794,333 viewers compared to GH`s all-time low of 772,000 viewers in October. With November sweeps 85% over, General Hospital has averaged 782,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic, making it GH`s worst performance ever during a sweeps period.
As noted in previous writings, this ratings collapse has occurred during the important sweeps period where programming is supposedly specifically designed to attract larger audiences so that the network can charge advertisers more money. Many fans have wondered what management was thinking when they decided to promote current couples and storylines that have proven to not be popular and to only concentrate on certain characters during sweeps.
ABC has aggressively promoted the return of Brenda Barrett. While some viewers were excited about her return, many were not prepared for Brenda to be involved in almost every storyline or have almost every storyline revolve around her, including one with the now highly over-used Dante. When Brenda is not in a scene, she is often mentioned in the scene. The writers have even felt compelled to have Spinelli explain her absence on days she is not on camera by mentioning that she cannot be disturbed since she is taking a nap or doing yoga! Due to the characterization, many are finding that this newly-returned, weaker, childish and more annoying Brenda, as many viewers have described her, bears little resemblance to the beloved Brenda from years past.
Another problem with the current sweeps storylines is the over-use of the very stagnant and, what one viewer has called, `lame and boring` Jason and Sam pairing. If they are not sitting on the couch eating Chinese food, then Jason spends his time reassuring an insecure Sam about his feelings after he has spent a `secretive and personal` moment with Brenda. Fans of the once self-assured, independent Sam McCall are tired of seeing her profess to love Jason at any cost right after he has just rushed into Brenda`s room at his penthouse because she was having a nightmare or rushed out of Sam`s apartment to hurry home to Brenda. Fans of Jason Morgan are tired of seeing his character, year after year, repeatedly reassuring someone he supposedly loves while taking care of someone else, all while worrying about his nephew, and now also completely ignoring his own son. It is, indeed, stagnant and completely lacking in creativity or excitement, causing many viewers to not watch.
Throughout this sweeps period and into the current ratings week, the once highly-acclaimed Patrick/Robin/Lisa Fatal Attraction " storyline has become something more like a persistent rash. It seems the writers have decided to have characters continue to ignore that there was a dead nurse found in the hospital and that Robin was found in a well near a cabin Lisa took her to that was owned by Lisa`s patient. The only reason Robin was found was because Drs. Webber and Drake asked the patient if he had given Lisa the keys to his cabin. The storyline that had reached its climactic point weeks ago has now lost its credibility since GH`s head writer has basically started the storyline all over again with other characters added into the mix. It is no wonder that viewers are frustrated since the intelligence and integrity of other characters, like Dr. Steve Webber, have been comprised. The only choices the GH writers have given viewers are to tune in and have their intelligence insulted or quit watching. Many have chosen to quit watching.
While fans enjoy some light-hearted moments and comic relief, many felt that the writers had taken things too far when it appeared the intent was to have Luke and Tracy possibly get married in Vegas on or near the same date as the monumental November 16 anniversary of the iconic Luke and Laura wedding that drew 30,000,000 viewers in 1981. The addition of Ethan and Maya having sex as a surprise married " couple into the craziness resulted in lower ratings, with Tuesday and Wednesday having the fewest viewers of the week.
Many viewers are not surprised to see the ratings continue to fall and have taken advantage of online message boards to post their frustrations about the show. On November 23, 2010, Luke Kerr posted a poll on the Daytime Confidential soap opera website asking viewers Which Soap Had the Worst November Sweeps? Of 1,537 votes, GH soundly led with 592 votes (39%), with the next closest soap being All My Children (AMC) with 373 votes (24%). All other soaps trailed with 16% or fewer votes. On the same date, Mr. Kerr posted another poll asking Which Soap Had the Best November Sweeps? Of 1,284 votes, GH had the fewest of all the soaps with a total of 89 votes (7%). Online viewers who participated not only ranked GH first of the worst, but also last of the best!
Through various media outlets, ABC has told fans that the reunions they have been waiting for and the characters they want to see are what will be appearing. Viewers have shown that what ABC says viewers want to see is clearly not always what viewers want or even something they will watch. What many GH fans would like to see is a soap opera based on basic soap principles like the ten remedies suggested by the SOS/Save Our Soap! General Hospital campaign, which include character-driven storylines, being true to the characters while allowing for growth and development, respecting the rich history of the characters and the show, respecting and including veteran characters in storylines, creating an emotional balance for the characters, focusing on families, promoting enduring couples that viewers can root for, heightening romance, minimizing sleaze and creating an enjoyable escape. Basically, viewers want ABC/Disney to make changes to fix the show! With the very poor showing of GH, many fans wonder why Disney has not stepped in to improve this once iconic soap. Fans have been asking for changes for months, but feel no one is listening. Is this the way Disney would treat customers of its theme parks?
Weekly, more fans of GH are joining together with fans of Sonny and Kate, Jason and Elizabeth, Patrick and Robin, and Jax and Carly, along with fans of Luke and Laura, as part of the SOS/Save Our Soap! General Hospital Campaign. All share a common goal of asking ABC/Disney to save General Hospital make changes in an effort to save the show by utilizing the ten remedies presented by the fans through the SOS/Save Our Soap! General Hospital campaign. For more information or to comment on the campaign, contact Dana L. Meyer or Kecia K. Picard at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the SOS/Save Our Soap! General Hospital page on Facebook, follow on Twitter @SOS_GH or visit the SOS/Save Our Soap! General Hospital website at www.saveoursoapgh.com.