According to The New York Times, CBS is canceling “As the World Turns,” the 54-year-old soap that is the last daytime serial owned by Procter & Gamble.
The show’s audience, which exceeded six million viewers a week in the 1990s, has drawn less than 2.5 million so far this season.
The show chronicled generations of characters in fictional Oakdale, Ill., as they survived love and loss, but they couldn’t survive the harsh realities of modern television, where scripted dramas have become too expensive to justify dwindling ratings.
Soaps typically cost around $50 million a year to produce.
Naturally fans of the show are displeased. Dee Saxman comments, “So the era of great acting and scripts on TV is over; that is very upsetting. Look at the nighttime shows, they are awful, monotone voices, violence, same-ol’ scripts … over and over, only with a few variances.”
Procter & Gamble has owned more than 20 soap operas in the past 80 years, and my guess is they will continue to pursue scripted and unscripted advertainment in a variety of forms. In fact, I’m quite certain that P&G could have a whole stable of popular Web shows for the price of one daytime soap.