Thursday, April 9, 2009

Could Scabs Stop General Hospital’s Bleeding?

This article by Spin's Vixenella was first published in TV Guide Canada, Nelson's Ratings, April 6. 2009.

Click. That was the sound of disillusioned General Hospital (GH) fans “voting with their remote” and turning off their TVs in the middle of sweeps. Seldom have fans reacted so swiftly and with such determination, but fans of Spixie, Spinelli (Bradford Anderson) and Maxie (Kirsten Storms), were true to their word. On Friday (3/13), Spixie fans got a wonderful surprise as Maxie told Spinelli she loved him and would love him forever. From Friday to Monday (3/16), daily ratings inched up as fans tuned in for the continuation of the long-awaited “I Love You’s”; unfortunately along with those “three little words,” Spixie fans were treated to Maxie threatening to sleep with Johnny, (Brandon Barash). Once again, GH was giving Spixie fans a love story with one hand and snatching it away with the other; Tuesday’s (3/17) ratings declined from Monday’s highest rated show of the week.

By Tuesday (3/17), horrified Spixie fans watched Maxie in total self-destruct mode, kissing erstwhile gigolo mob prince Johnny Zacchara in the back of a limo. Whip-lashed from being jerked around for nearly a year, a volcano of Spixie fans erupted, flooding the GH Comment Lines with hundreds of calls vowing to turn off their televisions on Wednesday (3/18). One of the large Spixie fan websites documented over three hundred angry fan calls to the GH Comment Line. Spixie fans may have been as good as their word as ratings plunged noticeably further between Tuesday's sleazy limo scene with its 1.9 rating to Wednesday’s 1.8 rating.

Incredibly, ABC’s venerable General Hospital, winner of last year’s Emmy for Best Daytime Drama, boasted a 1.8 rating for its Wednesday (3/18) episode, the worst daily rating received by any ABC Daytime show during the week ending 3/20/09. Complicating GH’s troublesome decline, this is a “sweeps” rating period instrumental in setting future advertising rates. Even more embarrassing, on Wednesday (3/18), GH featured a promoted cameo by NASCAR star Jeff Burton, without which the 1.8 daily rating may have been even lower.

The most alarming news for GH has to be the dramatic decline since the same period last year when scabs’-written episodes were airing following the Writers’ Strike. During the same period in 2008, GH maintained an average daily rating of nearly 2.3 with an audience of almost 3 million viewers a day. This year, during the week of 3/16 - 3/20, 2009, GH averaged 1.9 in daily ratings with an average audience size of 2.6 million viewers.

Just in the Nielson Ratings for the week of 3/23 - 3/27, 2009, all soaps across the networks gained over the prior week. Even with better ratings for the week ending 3/27/09, the analysis for GH remains unchanged. During the same scabs’-written period last year (3/24 - 3/28, 2008), GH hit what was, at the time, a new low, losing more than 400,000 viewers over the same period in 2007. The Nielson’s for the week of 3/23 - 3/27, 2009, including the daily ratings, nearly mirror the comparable period in 2008, at the time a new low for GH, but today viewed with a sigh of relief over last week’s abysmal ratings. For the week ending 3/27/09, GH gained only 25,000 viewers over the same scabs’-written period last year; in contrast, both AMC and OLTL gained in excess of 315,000 viewers from the comparable scabs’-written period. Finally, GH gained 198,000 total viewers for the week ending 3/27/09, that is approximately the 101,000 viewers potentially attributable to those specifically boycotting Wednesday (3/18) the prior week, plus an additional 97,000 viewers, in line with the weekly viewer gains from AMC & OLTL, +80,000 and +104, 000 respectively.

GH needs a serious shake-up. Over the past year, GH has angered nearly every fan base. There seems to be no long-term vision, no commitment to character development, no commitment to couples, and no commitment to the show’s rich 46-year history. GH has no romantic stories, no happy couples, and scant little love in the afternoon. GH is an unrecognizable sleazy, violent mess, and any given week in danger of lagging behind the rest of the ABC Daytime line-up. Rumors abound of upcoming cast changes and high profile returns of beloved characters, but is that where changes should occur? Are General Hospital fans telling ABC Daytime loud and clear, they enjoyed the scabs’ interpretation of characters, couples, and stories as much or more than anything currently on tap.

GH Daily Ratings Week of 3/16 – 3/20, 2009Monday: 2.0/2,793,000Tuesday: 1.9/2,540,000Wednesday: 1.8/2,449,000Thursday: 2.0/2,727,000Friday: 2.0/2,719,000

Ratings Week of 3/16 – 3/20, 2009
Total Viewers
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)1. Y&R 5,116,000 (+23,000/-406,000)2. B&B 3,299,000 (-231,000/-796,000)3. DAYS 2,986,000 (+288,000/+36,000)4. AMC 2,699,000 (+81,000/+184,000)5. OLTL 2,664,000 (-20,000/+16,000)6. GH 2,646,000 (-101,000/-342,000)7. ATWT 2,532,000 (-148,000/-666,000)8. GL 2,133,000 (-127,000/-534,000)

Ratings Week of 3/23 – 3/27, 2009
(Compared to Last Week/Compared to Last Year)Total Viewers1. Y&R 5,195,000 (+79,000/-258,000)2. B&B 3,495,000 (+196,000/-549,000)3. DAYS 3,052,000 (+66,000/+210,000)4. GH 2,844,000 (+198,000/+25,000)5. AMC 2,779,000 (+80,000/+318,000)6. OLTL 2,768,000 (+104,000/+338,000)7. ATWT 2,730,000 (+198,000/-413,000)8. GL 2,249,000 (+166,000/-328,000)

Source for ratings data:


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