COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — One of the longest continuously running shows in television history is adjusting with the times. After 56 years, this is the last week “Days of Our Lives” will air on NBC.
The show will be moved to NBCUniversal’s streaming platform Peacock on Monday. All new episodes will be added to Peacock, where old episodes are already available to stream.
Mark Lazarus, Chairman of NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, said Peacock is where a large percentage of the “Days” audience is already watching and that the move will benefit NBC and loyal viewers.
According to an industry-tracking site Cloudwards 85% of U.S. households have at least one video streaming subscription.
Since the announcement of the move to Peacock was made, NBC4’s business administrator said they have received eight inquiries from central Ohio viewers.
Dr. Robyn Warhol, distinguished professor of English at Ohio State University, said she’s not surprised about their concern.
“Soap fans have always been passionate about their soaps and loyal to a particular soap,” she said. “There are only four of the original maybe 12 or 15 that were really there at the peak [of soap opera viewing]. Only four have survived this long.
“It looks like CBS is going to hang onto theirs. ABC hasn’t said what they’re doing with General Hospital if they’re going to renew it or not,” she said. “NBC is taking this very experimental step, that, yes, I think will break the hearts of soap fans who can’t follow this series onto Peacock but will certainly be gratifying to those who can.”
Soap operas, including “Days of Our Lives,” play a large role in the history of early television, Warhol said, the origin of which started even before the dawn of radio and TV.
“The serialized fiction form got started in Victorian novels back in the 1830s. Novels would be released in parts over weeks or months, sometimes for many years, that people would buy installments each month and read and then wait to see what would happen next and buy it again the next month,” Warhol said.
She said the shows we now know as soap operas got their start in the 1930s as radio serials before transitioning to daytime TV, and they were one of the few places in media where women were welcome.
“The soap operas that were written for the radio serials were written usually by women, and so the showrunners of most of the most important TV soap operas were women,” she said. “It was one of the few places in television in those eras, where women really could have some kind of dominance and influence over what was being broadcast.
“It’s been a feminine genre for a long time.”
The target demographic of daytime TV then and remains today is women 18 to 49.
“The assumption is those are women who stay home with their kids [and] who stay home to take care of the home rather than working outside the home,” Warhol said. “That is, of course, a demographic that has been declining in numbers very dramatically since the ’50s and ’60s.”
Warhol, a self-proclaimed “addict” who followed CBS’s “As The World Turns” for 40 years before it was canceled in 2010, said there is a bright side for fans of “Days.”
“I understand being upset … but on the other hand, it’s better than getting canceled, right? Because the story will continue, the cast will come back, the production values, I imagine, will stay pretty much the same,” Warhol said, “so they don’t have to give up their soap.”