Treat Daytime Like Primetime?

“We are not announcing the cancellation of General Hospital,” Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney/ABC TV Group said today, but also added, “It is important to look at daytime like we do at primetime— it really is about eyeballs, and we will go with the shows that have the most viewership.” Treat Daytime like Primetime? Really ABC? Translation? Given that the network just committed to two new reality series, The Chew and The Revolution, to replace cancelled soaps One Life to Live and All My Children, it is going to be extremely difficult for ABC to guarantee the return of General Hospital next season. That would give the new reality shows a 50-50 chance at best to go to a second season before they have even premiered. But, given the high mortality rate for new series, it is unlikely that both series would continue beyond their first year. And the smart move would be to hang onto General Hospital. But given ABC’s tendency to head straight for the cliff, we can’t possibly see Brian Frons backing a genre that he has “yet” to promote.

Still, the uncertainty may create alienation among soap fans toward Couric who, despite the fact that it’s entirely an ABC decision, would be perceived as the person responsible for the cancellation of General Hospital. Let’s face it, Katie Couric is no Oprah. Her work is, at best, mediocre. There I said it. And if she trends toward a tabloid-style, hard hitting political direction… things could get ugly very fast. Couric will start at ABC on August 1st, according to the latest updates we’ve received. In addition to working on staffing up her daytime show, she also pans to jump right into her duties at ABC News, which she said may include stints on any shows, including Good Morning America, Nightline, World News and 20/20. “I’ll be reporting for duty for anyone that would have me,” Couric said, adding, “The opportunity to be a part of such a vibrant news division was extra appealing to me.” Couric also said that she hopes to also be part of ABC’s coverage of the 2012 Presidential elections, including on election night. Again, panning to the “political” audience will place her into CNN and FOX territory and Couric is a “lightweight” compared to the competition on cable.

Another major factor that General Hospital fans will not be happen about is the production costs. Couric’s show is expected to shoot about 39 or 40 weeks of originals a year at a production cost of about $1 million a week. In comparison to a hefty production price tag of anywhere from $20 million to $75 million a week (and I’m low-balling here) for a daytime soap, you can count on the number crunchers to be elated to eliminate GH. Couric owns her show, probably in conjunction with executive producer Jeff Zucker, with ABC getting a hefty producing and distribution fee. Because early frontrunners NBC and CBS eventually pulled out, I hear ABC, which initially had tried to get Couric for a network daytime talk show, was able to make the deal that it wanted as there was no bidding war in the final stages. Gee, I wonder why. Could it be that CBS was simply tossing aside the ratings Titanic that Couric became once she snagged up the spot? Bet on it.

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~ by upbeatmag on June 7, 2011.

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