WebXtra: Does end of 'Guiding Light' mark slow decline in soaps

By Molly Reuter - bio | email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - CBS says Guiding Light will end in September after 72 years on the air. The end of the show is just one example of soap operas' steady decline in popularity. Also, no networks have yet agreed to broadcast this year's Daytime Emmy Awards.

Guiding Light had the lowest ratings of the eight daytime dramas on the air. When it leaves, CBS and ABC will have three weekday soap operas, with NBC having one. CBS says Guiding Light attracted nearly five million viewers an episode ten years ago. This season, it has a mere 2.17 million. According to Nielsen, the median age of its audience is 56.5 years, and that's not an age group attractive to advertisers.

East Texans we talked to say, they just don't have time keeping up with the storyline everyday. Plus, soap operas' themes of love, jealousy, betrayal and riches are now seen on cable television in reality shows. Still, there are those that grew up with soap opera's and would hate to see them go.

"I watched General Hospital at one time, and now I watch Guiding Light," said Tyler resident Earlena English. "I used to watch them all as a matter of fact. I'll probably be pretty sad when Guiding Light ends, but maybe I will find another one I can watch."

"I watched All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital, and for no particular reason, but because they were there, and they had a storyline there at one time that I liked, but then it got to mushy, so I stopped watching it," said Tyler resident Ruby Curry.

Not only are the storylines forcing viewers to turn elsewhere, the target audience of stay at home moms, is just getting smaller. About 60% of women ages 20 and older have jobs these days. That's according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fifty years ago, 63 percent stayed at home.