Is Increased DVR Usage Why Soap Ratings Are Falling?

'General Hospital's Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo and Maurice Benard (ABC)

'General Hospital's Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo and Maurice Benard (ABC)

Every week, daytime soap ratings seem to drop to new lows.  Shows are doing noticeably worse than they were just a year ago.

Fans are quick to blame less than great writing and poor publicity.  The explanation may be far simpler.  A lot more daytime fans are using DVRs to record their shows and watch later.

According to the most recent Nielsen ratings, so far this season daytime soaps averaged a whopping +41% increase among the all important Women 18-49 demographic versus live ratings.  Last season, the percentage gain was only +27%.  The most DVR’d soaps are: ‘General Hospital‘ (+58%), ‘Days of Our Lives‘ (+50%) and ‘The Young & The Restless‘ (+48%).

This trend towards recording and watching later, which mirrors the viewing patterns of many primetime shows, could account for most of the year-to-year ratings decline.  Soaps are likely to be recorded and watched later both because they air at inconvenient times and because many soap fans have a tendency to fast forward through characters and storylines that do not interest them.

Even Live +1 day ratings increase the W18-49 numbers by an average of + 26%. Networks and Advertisers are still figuring out how to factor in DVR ratings when they set advertising rates, but it is encouraging that there are a lot more people watching daytime that the live Nielsen ratings indicate.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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