Why Was As the World Turns Canceled?

Why Was “As the World Turns” Canceled?

CBS has canceled two high profile daytime television shows in the last four months.

First, “Guiding Light” — the longest running soap opera in television history, which aired in some form from 1937 to 2009. On December 8th, 2009, CBS announced that “As the World Turns” (which started airing in 1956 and was the longest running broadcast soap opera after the cancellation of “GL”) will end its run in September of 2010. “As the World Turns” has an annual audience of around 2.5 million, and is by far the most popular of the remaining soap operas.

So why would a show with that many viewers be cancelled after more than fifty years? Put simply — money.

Even though the show boasts millions of annual viewers, soap operas simply aren’t profitable for networks anymore. The reasons for this loss of revenue have been debated in recent years — women joining the work force en masse, and competition from multiple cable channels and online programming are the two usual suspects.

Daytime television has moved away from big budget dramas to cheaper talk shows and other formats. Soap operas require big budgets because of the size of the cast, guest stars, the number of writers needed to keep a show interesting, productions costs and high productions values, etc.

Look at other daytime soap operas for an example of how the entire industry has been affected by tight budgets. Think back to October, when Eric Braeden of “The Young and the Restless” made noise about leaving the show because he’d been asked to take another huge pay cut. Reportedly, Braden makes seven figures for his work on that popular soap.

In related news, ABC is moving its most popular soap, “All My Children”, to a more cost effective California studio before the end of 2009. Industry insiders report that show will save as much as $15 million every year for moving the studio.

There may be hope for fans of “As the World Turns” — the production company that puts the show on the air is reportedly trying to sell “World” to any number of other venues, including a possible move online, hoping that production of this popular daytime drama can continue. Outlook for this plan is not so good, as “Guiding Light” tried the same thing and failed to find a competent buyer.

Daytime dramas are struggling, just as television and other entertainment media are struggling. To keep your favorite soaps on the air, the best move you can make is to shop with their sponsors.