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Ratings, Rants and Raves: Did Katie Couric Rumors Cause General Hospital to Hit Record Low Ratings?

Katie Couric

Okay, this is a Ratings, Rants and Raves column I never imagined writing. According to the Nielsen ratings for the week of May 30–June 3, General Hospital was the least watched daytime soap, no not just on ABC, period.  (Source: Soap Opera Network). Color me stunned.

GH dropped 196,000 total viewers over the previous week, hitting a new all-time low. GH also fell two-tenths of a point in households, tying DAYS and AMC in last place. GH hit another all-time low in women viewers 18-49. In the W18-49 demo, however GH was tied for second place. Among women 18-34, the sudser held steady in fourth place, but was even in last among girls 12-17! I don't even wanna speculate on storyline right now, because what I am really wondering is if all the rumblings about Katie Couric taking the iconic soap's timeslot (which was later confirmed to be true) caused viewers to preemptively flee en mass? 

GH is once again in the fight of it's life, only unlike in 1978 when the late Gloria Monty and the late Douglas Marland turned the serial around in record time, the entire soap genre is in trouble, so for once I am going to save the snark and implore lapsed fans to simply tune back in. While I have about as much faith in ABC's "commitment" to GH as I did a week ago, the soap has new blood in the form of Garin Wolf and Ron Carlivati set to be infused in the writing room and there are rumblings of a similar shift happening at the showrunner level.

I know I gave Wolf shiz for having gone Fi-Core during the Writers' Strike when it was announced he was taking over as head writer, but you know, despite my pro-union stance, I'll just have to table my views on that particular issue and throw my support in with this dude and his team, hoping against hope they can save ABC's last soap standing. If you ever loved GH, start watching again, STAT.

Storywise Brenda (Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo) and her tyke found a dead woman is Sonny's (Maurice Benard) place of business, providing Marcil Giovinazzo with her meatiest material since she returned. Brenda as the terrified new mom was much more relatable than the wilted flower she's been since coming back from Paris. I also enjoyed the continuing, heartbreaking familial tear running down the fabric of Jax (Ingo Rademacher) and Carly's (Laura Wright) life. Talk about Scenes From a Marriage. Again peeps, now is the time to tune back in and help save GH!

Elsewhere on the Mouse House dial, One Life to Live was once again ABC's most watched daytime soap. OLTL was No. 3 in total viewers and households, but fell one-tenth of a point among women 18-49, where it landed at No. 4. Among women 18-34, OLTL was No. 2 and only two-tenths of a point away from tying The Young and The Restless.

OLTL was off the chain again the week in question, storywise. Bo and Nora (Robert Woods and Hillary B. Smith) reeling over Matthew's (Eddie Alderson) prognosis, as Clint (Jerry verDorn) sacrificed the family estate to save Messy, I mean Jessy (Bree Williamson) from Cutter (Josh Kelly) was the kind of high stakes, character-driven soap opera daytime needs more of right now.

Sure, I could do without characters like Vimal, Rama, Rick and Deanna, but they provide the necessary inciting incidents to help fuel story for the main characters. You'd be hard pressed to find another soap that gives their vets one high adrenaline story after another.

Susan Haskell (Marty) continued to wow me as Marty came even more undone. I thought it was kinda wonky that Todd (Trevor St. John) let her be alone with that baby knowing she was cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, but I guess whatever secret he's hiding made it worth it to let a bat poop crazy mental patient play coochie coochie coo with his nephew. Man am I gonna miss Mad Marty.

I think by this point I've driven home how ridonk it is that OLTL is going off the air, however, it is going off the air.  Now the best thing ABC soap fans can do is hope that the same creative team who helped OLTL stay under budget and stable in the ratings, when every other daytime soap on the dial shed viewers during the 2010-11 TV season, can work similar magic at GH.

Red Rover, Red Rover, let Frank V. come over...

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All My Children was No. 4 in total viewers and among households for the week in question. AMC was tied in last place among women 18-49 with The Bold and the Beautiful. AMC was No. 5 among women 18-34, falling one tenth of a point in that demo.

I must admit, I am finding Jane (Susan Lucci) a bit of a hoot. The doppelganger dingbat doesn't have a clue how to lead Erica Kane's fabulous life, which is sort of an unintentional parallel to past regimes lack of so much of a clue as to how to write for La Kane. Here's hoping that once the episodic evidence of the Real Erica Kane reuniting with the woman who breathed life into her perfect nostrils, Agnes Nixon, appears on our screens, Pine Valley will have one hell of a Farewell Party. 

I'm also really enjoying Tad (Michael E. Knight) and Kendall (Alicia Minshew) bonding over having the hots for those muy caliente hermanos Griffin (Jordi Vilasuso) and Cara (Lindsay Hartley). This may get me stoned (I'm used to it), but I want the Castillos to stick around Pine Valley until the end. I know, I know, the show has to make room for all the famed returns from the dead, but I personally like these characters and wish we'd have had more time to get to know them. I don't expect them to be driving story until the book closes on PV, but I would at least like them still in town and hopefully afforded happy endings as well.

The Young and the Restless was the only soap to gain total viewers over the previous week, despite falling one-tenth of a point in households and among women 18-34.  Y&R held steady among women 18-49, however.

I have  been pretty hard on Y&R lately, so I will start with what I liked, and boy did I like it! One of my favorite love-to-hate characters Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott) tore me DOWN, as a drunk Nikki blasted her AA meeting.  Thomas Scott was so real in those scenes, for a second I forgot I was watching television. Nikki's visible struggle with her disease, coupled with the look of stunned empathy from the man who caused her to fall of the wagon, Deacon (Sean Kanan) provided us with soap's best scenes of that week. A major shout out has to also be afforded Eric Braeden. Victor's comfort of his undone beloved on that park bench reminded me how damn good Y&R can be when it wants to be.  

Now for what I didn't like. Can someone please take Sharon's (Sharon Case) behind home so she can go ahead and be acquitted for not having pushed that heffa into a volcano? I am sooo over the Perils of Sharon!  

Would it be too much to ask for Sharon to return to GC, put on her big girl panties and find some semblance of a life and self respect? Case is an amazing actress, but watching her character continue to make one bad choice after another is like enduring a "Choose Your Own Adventure" game where the page never turns. This regime's writing for Sharon made me turn in my Team Shick membership in favor of a Team Phick button, and trust me, I never thought that was possible.

The Bold and The Beautiful was No. 2 among total viewers and in households. B&B was dead last among women 18-49 and women 18-34, however, hitting a new low in the latter. I can't help but be afraid for B&B's chances of renewal if it continues to circle the demographic drain. I fear the sudser being wildly popular all over the world isn't going to matter one bit to CBS if they can't attract the very female viewers Madison Avenue craves here in the good ol' U.S. of A.

I am having mixed feelings about Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang), Thomas (Adam Gregory) and the Fallout From The Horny Berries. On one hand, Stephanie (Susan Flannery) bribing her grandson to lie about sleeping with Brooke is deliciously-vicious, old school soap. On the other, it seems to totally negate the beautiful love story between Brooke and Stephanie that played for most of last season.

Are we really supposed to buy Steph turning on the woman who helped save her life from The Big C, just so she can get Ridge (Ron Moss) and Taylor (Hunter Tylo) back together? Speaking of Taylor. That hot, three-dollar mess threatening to have Brooke "prosecuted" was insane-yet-hilarious. Thomas isn't 14, he's a grown man Tay-Tay! Stop trying to deny him his birthright trip to Brooke's Bedroom!

Days of Our Lives was No. 5 in total viewers for the week in question. The NBC sudser was tied for last in households, yet held steady at No. 2 among women 18-49 and women 18-34. Storywise, DAYS had a bunch of stories I didn't care about going that week. I don't care about the Taylor/EJ/Nicole triangle whatsoever. I don't care about Dario lusting over Melanie. I don't care about Carly crushing on Daniel...See where I'm going? I just don't care about any of these stories. Which is why, lucky for me, they're all coming to an end soon!

I've decided to try to meet Ken Corday halfway. Yeah, he seems to say all the right things about every six months in terms of his perennial plans to save DAYS, but who knows, maybe, just maybe, this time he will follow through. Word to the wise, Ken. Actions speak louder than soundbites.  See you next Ratings.

For the complete Nielsen ratings for daytime soaps, visit Soap Opera Network.

Photo of Katie Couric by PR Photos