UPDATE TURSDAY AM: No miracle bounce for Revolution, which slipped a fraction to a new series low of 1.32 million viewers for the week of March 19. General Hospital (2.25million) was steady, while The Chew (2.04 million) was down 5%.
PREVIOUS: With the deadline looming for ABC to make a decision about which shows will take the two remaining daytime slots on its schedule next fall, things are looking brighter for the network’s embattled soap General Hospital. It is still the least-watched among the four surviving daytime dramas on ABC, CBS and NBC, averaging 2.3 million viewers for the most recent week we have data for (March 12-16). But the series had a ratings uptick recently (it hit an 18-week high among women 18-49, 657,000, for the week of March 5, which featured the death of a character), and in the female demo, it’s been actually running ahead of NBC’s Days Of Our Lives.
But boosting GH‘s chances of survival the most is the poor ratings performance of new lifestyle series The Revolution. ABC has given the series time to find its legs — it only premiered in January — but I hear the network brass are starting to lose faith in the show, which hit series lows for the last two weeks with Nielsen data. For the week of March 5, it drew 1.4 million viewers, and for the week of March 12 — 1.33 million viewers. Compare that to 2.25 million for GH and 2.14 million for The Chew for the week of March 12; that 2.14 million was a 10-week low for The Chew but still dwarfed The Revolution’s viewership. The two lifestyle series were introduced this season as replacements for departing soaps All My Children and One Life To Live. While The Chew has consistently delivered more than 2.1 million viewers, peaking at 2.6 million in December, The Revolution never took off despite airing behind The Chew. What’s more, The Chew‘s ratings are actually on par with those of the soap it replaced, AMC, at a fraction of the cost, sealing the new show’s status as a keeper. Meanwhile, The Revolution is down 40% from OLTL‘s numbers.
Even with those mediocre ratings, given the cost structure of producing a talk show vs. a soap, Revolution still may make sense financially for ABC. But I hear the network’s executives don’t feel strong enough about the middling newcomer to kill its only remaining daytime drama for it, completely alienating soap fans who are already miffed by ABC’s decision last year to yank AMC and OLTL. Also, if ABC keeps The Chew and The Revolution intact in their current 2 PM and 3 PM slots, the latter would serve as a lead-in to the upcoming Katie Couric talk show. Both ABC and Couric have a lot riding on the success of the show and will likely try to give it the best shot possible. That includes a strong lead-in. Among GH, The Chew and The Revolution, GH has the highest women 18-49 average, so a pairing of The Chew and GH from 1-3 PM next season, leading into Katie, appears more and more likely. ABC’s decision is expected to come down in a couple of weeks. Last year, the network announced the cancellation of AMC and OLT on April 14 and will likely unveil its daytime plans for next season around that date again. Unless The Revolution pulls out a ratings miracle, it will likely be a short-lived one, giving GH a stay of execution for another year.