Well, he has gone and done it again. O.J. Simpson–whose trial took soaps off the air for much of the epic 252-day court extravaganza back in 1995 for the double murder of his ex-wife, Nicole, and Ron Goldman–took our soaps away, this time for his parole hearing.
The coverage started about 1 p.m. on the East Coast, knocking off the second half of The Young and the Restless (YR) and all of The Bold and the Beautiful (BB) in many markets. In fact, that show was pre-empted nationwide and will air tomorrow instead.
When the parole board made its decision to release Simpson, it interrupted General Hospital (GH). Fans will have to watch the show on ABC’s website or on Hulu.
Away from the East Coast, Days of Our Lives (DOOL) was also interrupted.
It was a familiar scene for those of us who were watching soaps in the mid-90s – having Simpson on-screen instead of our soaps. The frustration returned full force. Those wounds run deep for fans who remember what it was like back then.
Many point to that first go-round back in 1995 to the moment soaps – and their ratings – took a huge hit.
Viewers weren’t able to see their shows at the usual time and you learned to have a life. Many didn’t return when their soaps returned.
Not only that, the drama for Simpson was so heightened, so mesmerizing and compelling (as witnessed by the recent docudramas about it getting huge ratings), that it was hard for the soaps to compete.
The networks that aired the parole hearing are probably hoping that ratings magic will hit once again. But, they may end up with an unexpected side effect — those who tuned in for it aren’t going to return and in the meantime they may have alienated their base audience.
History has proven that once you’ve done that, it’s hard to get them back.
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