Monday, April 15, 2024

Soap Opera Ratings Shocker: “General Hospital” Drops to 4th Place After Jettisoning Veterans Genie Francis, Kin Shriner


I told you in the last several months that “General Hospital” ignited mutiny among its viewers by dropping 40 year veterans Genie Francis and Kin Shriner.

Now the ABC soap is reaping the punishment by those viewers: for the first time since there were just four soaps competing in the ratings, “GH” has dropped to 4th place.

The irony is that “Days of Our Lives,” long in the fourth spot, has overtaken it. “Days” is written now by Ron Carlivati, who was hired to resuscitate “GH” several years ago. He did it by bringing back favorite actors and characters. When ABC dropped him, Carlivati went to “Days” and has pulled off the same stunt. He and his team just won the Daytime Emmy for writing.

What happened at “GH” is similar to what went on when CBS and Procter and Gamble got rid of their soaps, “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns” in 2010. First they jettisoned long time popular actors, then made characters unrecognizable to the remaining fans. It was a strategic effort to kill the ratings so they’d have an excuse to cancel the shows.

Is ABC doing this to “General Hospital”? Anything is possible. ABC, owned by Disney, could be planning a soap involving Marvel characters. (I’m being facetious, but hey–not inconceivable.) They don’t have any replacement shows, and if they do– as they learned with Katie Couric– audience retribution is fatal.

If the network isn’t doing all this on purpose then it would seem like the end is near for EP Frank Valentini. Fans say he’s driven the show into ground. A stunning turnaround is needed, pronto.

For the first week of sweeps, April 30th-May 4th, “GH” dropped to fourth place overall, down to 2.2 million from an average 2.6 million or higher in the past. It’s also being overtaken in the key demos 18-34 and 18-49. That’s a loss of 500,000 viewers, a free fall, and extremely worrisome.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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