How Daytime Soap Operas Are Holding Up in Pandemic Viewership – Even With Repeats

“Bold and the Beautiful” is the first back in production, But “Young and the Restless” is ratings champ

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Amid a whole lot of real-life drama, daytime TV’s melodrama is thriving — especially on CBS. Now, if they could just get that COVID-19 testing thing right…

In TheWrap’s study of Nielsen’s Live + Same Day ratings for broadcast television’s daytime soap operas during the coronavirus pandemic, new episodes of “The Young and the Restless” on CBS have led the competition in both the key women 25-54 demographic, with a 0.9 average, and among total viewers, with 4.002 million.

Over that same span, for which we included data from March 9 through June 14, fellow CBS soap “The Bold and the Beautiful,” the one that returned to production on Wednesday before immediately shutting down again the same day to ramp up COVID-19 testing, is in second place with a 0.8 demo rating and 3.477 million total viewers.

Not only do both of the top daytime soap operas on broadcast television share a network, they also both have the Bell Family behind their series. Bell-Philip Television Productions produces “The Bold and the Beautiful,” which is showrun by Bradley Bell. “The Young and the Restless” is produced by Bell Dramatic Serial Company in association with Sony Pictures Television. Bill Bell, Bradley’s big brother, is the president of Bell Dramatic Serial Company.

ABC’s “General Hospital” gets the bronze medal (out of four, so not much to celebrate on that level of the podium) here with a 0.7 rating and 2.292 million viewers over this analyzed span.

NBC’s “Days of Our Lives” brings up the rear with a 0.6 rating and 2.016 million viewers. And that’s the one that has been all original episodes this whole time.

After running out of their own originals due to production shutdowns, both of the CBS soaps went into reruns starting the week of April 27. ABC’s “General Hospital,” which was airing originals Monday-Thursday, joined “Y&R” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” in that all-rerun boat beginning the week of May 24.

NBC’s “Days” had a ton of episodes in the can this whole time and is still airing new ones daily as we speak. “Days of Our Lives” has enough originals to last into the fall, a person with knowledge of production told TheWrap.

That “Days” stockpile is perhaps not as reassuring to NBC as it might seem. Reruns of both “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” have actually topped originals for “Days of Our Lives” over the course of this shutdown period in total viewers, though that’s not the case in the key demo’s ratings. “Y&R” repeats have also drawn larger audiences than “General Hospital” originals over the past few months. That’s a soap opera slap in the face.

Repeats of both CBS soaps during the coronavirus shutdown have averaged a 0.5 rating apiece. “Y&R” reruns have averaged 2.309 million total viewers, while “Bold” encores have drawn 2.047 million per episode.

“General Hospital” reruns have averaged a 0.4 rating and 1.299 million total viewers.

Over the course of the COVID-19 shutdown, combining both originals and reruns into one number, the two CBS soap operas are each averaging a 0.7 rating — the other guys both have a 0.6. By that same outlook, the CBS soaps are still (and pretty comfortably) Nos. 1 and 2 in total viewers, but in this breakdown, NBC’s “Days of Our Lives” leapfrogs ABC’s “General Hospital” for third place by a mere 14,000 viewers per day.

With a perhaps premature (but legal) return to production, “The Bold and the Beautiful” was on the precipice of overtaking its own lead-in “The Young and the Restless” in the ratings.

Tony Maglio

Tony Maglio

TV Editor • tony.maglio@thewrap.com • Twitter: @tonymaglio



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