NBC’s ‘Days of our Lives’ to become second hour-long soap
By Jay Sharbutt
On January 6, NBC’s “Another World” soap opera went from a half-hour to an hour in length. Come April 21, the network’s “Days of Our Lives” will do the same thing. Why?
“Because I think the hour form is the common form for daytime drama,” says Lin Bolen. NBC’s vice president for daytime programs. “it also allows us to do a better show creatively.”
Does this mean all NBC soapers eventually will each run an hour?
“There’s a good chance of this happening,” she said. adding that audience studies NBC ran after “Another World” added another 30 minutes showed the program had far higher ratings than before.
“We also found that the women felt it was a better program, that the stories move faster. that it’s more involved and that the scenes play better,” she said. “Which is true, because we now have 12-minute scenes in the show, as opposed to three- and four-minute scenes.”
Game shows and soap operas
NBC now has five soap operas and six game shows on the air. But one half-hour soaper, “How to Survive a Marriage,” is being divorced from the network’s schedule to make room for the new “Days.”
>> Also see: The Bold and the Beautiful debuts (1987)
Does NBC plan to drop a game show or two to make room for lengthening the remaining soap operas?
“Well, if we keep expanding, we’re going to have to do something, aren’t we?” Miss Bolen asked, somewhat mysteriously. “I’d rather not talk about dropping shows.”
She was asked when a third hour-long soap opera will be on NBC.
“It’s hard to say,” she said. “We have to break habit patterns. It’s a more difficult task to expand upwards instead of downwards, which we did in ‘Another World.'”
By this, she meant beginning the revamped version of the soap opera earlier than its current starting time. “Downwards” means the start time remains as is, with the extra half hour added on.
“When you have your audience, it’s much easier to hold them than it is to ask them to tune in a half-hour earlier,” she said. “So it may take us a cycle — 13 weeks — or two to know precisely how successful ‘Days’ is.”
A CBS spokesman says his network has discussed making “As the World Turns” into an hour-long soaper. But no decision has been made pending closer scrutiny of what success NBC will have with its pair of 60-minute sagas.
Miss Helen was asked about the possibility of starting an hour-long game show, just to give devotees of that form dual time.
“I don’t really think you could sustain the game drama for an hour,” she said. “But you never know.”