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Oakdale Confidential:
An As The World Turns Novel

Thursday, April 13, 2006


As of today, "Oakdale Confidential," in the week before promotion for the book began on As The World Turns, has made The New York Times extended best-seller list at #26. There is hope that it will be even higher for the week it started being part of the on-air story (April 10 onward).

Yesterday, for a time, it was the #2 best-selling book on BN.com and the #5 on Amazon.com - their #1 mystery novel for the day.

All of this speaks to two things:

1) Thank you to all the ATWT fans who chose to support the show in this fashion during its 50th Anniversary year. Your loyalty and devotion to Oakdale is incredibly appreciated.

And 2) Reports of the soap opera's demise are highly exaggerated.

Unfortunately, every few months, someone likes to write about how daytime television, soap operas in particular, just ain't what they used to be. With more and more women working outside the home and competition from the Internet, ratings have been steadily declining.

Well, those people are right. Daytime ain't what it used to be. But it's still something pretty damn great.

If there is anything that "Oakdale Confidential's" success, as well as that of "The Killing Club," and "Hidden Passions" has proven, it's that the daytime audience is loyal, intelligent, plentiful and THEY BUY STUFF.

Ultimately, that's the key. Television, after all, is not in the business of providing programming. Television is in the business of providing audiences to sponsors, with audiences being the product, not the customer. The true customer is the company that pays for the commercials that keep the shows on the air.

And those companies need regular proof that what daytime audiences see on their screen, they'll buy.

Exhibit A: "Oakdale Confidential."


pcmacintyre said...

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with some of your conclusions.

First , you use the transitory appearance of your novel on the bestseller lists to state that “Reports of the soap opera's demise are highly exaggerated.”

I don’t see what one has to do with the other. Soaps, or any television program, need millions of viewers to remain on the air. How many books need to be sold in a given week to make the bestseller lists? A few thousand? A few hundred? And what are the aggregate sales needed for the book to be considered an overall success?

You can go into the science fiction or young adult sections of any bookstore and find novels based on the Star Trek series, Andromeda, Angel, and a slew of other shows that are no longer on the air. Original novels based on Firefly are being published, but I doubt we’ll ever see it return to television or movie screens.

If you want to look at soap operas, why did ABC Daytime stop its “Shop the Soaps” campaign? Obviously not enough people were buying the cheap jewelry being advertised, yet the viewership for the ABC shows is often higher that that of ATWT. While soap viewers may buy stuff, there’s no guarantee that they’ll buy enough. That there is enough demand for an occasional, heavily advertised tie-in work proves nothing.

Viewership is drastically down for the soaps. For all intents and purposes soaps are now a niche market, and the buyers of soap related tie-ins would be a niche within the niche.

“Television, after all, is not in the business of providing programming. Television is in the business of providing audiences to sponsors, with audiences being the product, not the customer.”

While perhaps true of the broadcast and basic cable networks, you must never forget the artistic components involved; to do otherwise risks insulting and alienating your audience. Just look at how the micromanaging at ABC and Procter & Gamble in their cynical hunt for that elusive 18-34 demographic lead to the erosion of their soaps viewer base.

9:12 AM  
thesoapgoddess said...

I disagree with come of the above comment. Viewership is there, we just are not being counted. When someone records a program, Nielson doesn't consider that because they are not watching "live". This primarily because those non-live people are fast-forwarding through commercials. And advertising is the reason for the ratings in the first place.
ABC overdid their "shop the soaps" campaign. It cannot be a true barometer of the success of tie-ins. Hardly a week would go buy where a character would receive a piece of jewelry and similar piece would be advertised at the end of the show. It got to be a joke everytime a character was engaged, celebrated a birthday or any other gift giving occassion.

P&G is doing a long-term promotion. The book seems to be related to more than one storyline and more than one episode. Frankly, I bought the book so I could keep up when a character says "Look at what they say about me on page xxx".

When I have had the book with me on my college campus, at work or waiting for friends in a restaurant, people always ask me about the tie-in to ATWT. They recognize the book, they know the show, and want to know "how good is it". It instances like these and the rankings on booklists that make me think that the death of the soap opera has been greatly exaggerated.

5:25 AM  

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