“Days of Our Lives,” NBC’s only daytime soap, just received a big vote of confidence from the network’s new president of programming Robert Greenblatt. The show, which has struggled in the ratings recently, is embarking on a creative reboot, hiring new headwriters and executive producers and bringing back some popular actors who have left the show including Drake Hogestyn and Deidre Hall. At Monday’s Television Critics Association Press Tour panel, Greenblatt stated, “My hat is off to [long-running soaps] as they creatively keep these things going. [‘Days’ is] the only soap that we have and it does relatively well for us. Some of [the soaps] going away on other networks could open up an available audience for us.” Less optimistically he added, “We may also be seeing this genre going into the twilight years of its existence with all of the other talk shows and syndicated shows out there. At the moment we’re really happy and I think it will be on for a while.”
Greenblatt’s enthusiasm for “Days” is a sharp contrast from the attitude of his predecessor, Jeff Zucker, who infamously stated in 2007 that he planned to cancel the soap when its contract expired in 2009. The producers managed to save the show by slashing its budget and crafting a few compelling storylines that improved its ratings. In 2010 the show was given a three year pick-up.
In the past three years, CBS and ABC have each canceled two soaps. Many observers felt that “Days” could be next due to NBC’s longterm neglect of its daytime programming. Instead it appears that the network is choosing to view the cancellation of “Days” frequent timeslot competitors “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” as a potential growth opportunity. It is plausible given that OLTL, ironically the one soap that has improved its ratings this season, no longer has to compete with “As the World Turns,” which aired its finale in September, 2010.