Walt Disney's ABC may stand by 'General Hospital'

The embattled soap opera still has loyal viewers, while the network's new reality show 'The Revolution' falters.

By Jonathan Berr Mar 28, 2012 2:04PM
Image: Watching television (© Digital Vision Ltd./SuperStock)"General Hospital," the last remaining soap opera on Walt Disney's (DIS) ABC, may survive a backstage financial drama every bit as intense as the ones it has acted out on the small screen for more than four decades.

Last year, ABC canceled "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" and replaced the long-running soap operas with "The Revolution" and "The Chew," cheaper unscripted programs. Many fans assumed that "General Hospital" would meet the same fate, but as Deadline Hollywood recently noted, Disney's plans have not worked out as expected.  

Ratings for the new shows have been lackluster and, in the case of "The Revolution," downright abysmal. Meanwhile, GH, as it is known, has seen a resurgence in interest from viewers, though it remains the least-watched of all the remaining soap operas.

Deadline Hollywood's Nellie Andreeva noted that GH "hit an 18-week high among women 18-49, 657,000, for the week of March 5, which featured the death of a character, and in the female demo, it's been actually running ahead of NBC's Days Of Our Live." 

Disney shareholders, who have been bitterly disappointed by the company's box office bombs like "John Carter," should be rooting for GH to succeed. Turning around the show may draw more female viewers, an audience coveted by some advertisers.  

ABC is now faced with a tough decision. Katie Couric's new talk show debuts in September and there isn't enough room on the network's schedule for all three shows. An ABC spokesman, Mitchell Messinger, told Top Stocks the network didn't have an exact date for an announcement. "When we are ready to announce something, we will," he said.  

Expectations are growing that "General Hospital" will survive and "The Revolution" will not. If that happens, soap fans can thank GH's recently appointed show runner Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati, who both joined the show after "One Life to Live" was canceled. 

Not only have Valentini and Carlivati brought back fan favorites from GH's glory days, such as Robin Mattson (Heather Webber), Rick Springfield (Noah Drake) and Finola Hughes (Anna Devane), but they are telling exciting stories as well, according to Richard Simms, executive editor of Soaps In Depth.

For instance, GH fans were recently stunned to learn that Robin Scorpio, a character who was apparently killed in February, is still alive and being held captive in an undisclosed location. (An earlier version wrongly said the character was Heather Webber).  Simms tells Top Stocks that he was surprised that GH managed to keep her fate a secret, considering that plot twists are often leaked to the press.

Valentini and Carlivati "have really cracked down on leaking," Simms said, adding that the lack of information is frustrating for the media -- but great for fans. "They are actually making you tune in tomorrow."

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed companies.

Tags: DIS
Mar 28, 2012 8:58PM
Get rid of The Chew  and The Revolution! Bring back One Life To Live and All My Children!  Whomever did the research for these programs should have researched it more. The Revolution had to advertise and pay people to be in their audience, One Life To Live which it replaced had a loyal audience that watched or DVR'ed or used Tivo to record if they were unable to watch. We did not need paid to do so we did it because we wanted to view it. People also watched it on SoapNet and or ABC.com .
Mar 28, 2012 8:40PM
It's time that Disney/ABC do the right thing and retain General Hospital. If they decide to cancel it, their remaining viewers will be gone. We've already left in droves during the daytime and even the Primetime ratings are sinking. General Hospital is the only daytime program that most soap opera viewers watch on ABC. Don't disrespect your viewer base - GH has higher ratings than the Revolution and should remain on the air.
Mar 28, 2012 8:46PM
Please, at least keep GH.  Best of all would be to bring back  AMC and OLTL.
Mar 28, 2012 8:26PM
Live on General Hospital!!! Down with The Revolution and The Chew.
Mar 28, 2012 9:09PM
ABC should have not have cancelled AMC and OLTL --that was their first mistake--their second mistake was replacing the soaps with the Chew and the Revolution- Just how many talk shows can we viewers handle???? If money was the issue ( ABC said it was ) they should have combined AMC and OLTL -- If they had ----- maybe they wouldn't have lost all of their soap viewers.
Mar 28, 2012 11:03PM

ABC/Disney has made some of the most questionable decisions in regards to programming that I have ever seen.  Cancelling All My Children and One Life to Live, coupled with the insulting comments of Brian Frons and Ty Pennington, have driven decades long fans of ABC to other networks.  Leaving General Hospital on the air may go part of the way to repair the damage.  Bringing back at least one of the cancelled shows would be better.  The Chew and The Revolution are "so 29 seconds ago."  Reality shows on all the networks do not do that well.    ABC should have done better research.  I will watch General Hospital, and only General Hospital, on ABC until either All My Children or One Life to Live is returned to the air.  If this does not occur, or General Hospital is cancelled, then my viewership of ABC/Disney, TV or movies, will end. 

Mar 28, 2012 10:35PM
When ABC/Disney first announced the cancellations of AMC and OLTL Soap fans everywhere protested, we flooded emails, phone lines, voicemails, and snail mail. We protested and told everyone we could that we would NOT be watching the replacement shows, they didn't listen to us claiming soap viewers could be trained like dogs to just accept whatever they want to put on the air. Now they have to pay people to be in the audience of the revolting revolution. How is that saving money? The ratings still stink. Ann Sweeney needs to follow through and keep her word on canceling the least viewed program and the shareholders should be keeping her accountable!!
Mar 28, 2012 10:56PM
my heart belongs with my soaps, All My Children, One Life To Live & General Hospital. I will NEVER watch any replacement show!!
Mar 28, 2012 9:36PM
GENERALHOSPITAL is firing on all cylinders with the incredible talents of its showrunners, Frank Valentini (EP) and Ron Carlivati! Viva GENERAL HOSPITAL!!!  The Revolution is revolting!!!
Mar 28, 2012 9:48PM
Disney shareholders should be holding the powers that be (I say that as I choke) at that horrible place accountable for the cancellation of All My Children and One Life to Live and replacing them with shows that they knew would fail.  The Revolting did not test well and they knew it.  They didn't care.  They were going to do what they wanted to do.  Fans, actors, crew and shareholders be damned!  COME ON SHAREHOLDERS!!!!!  WHERE ARE YOU?????  HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE!!!!!
Mar 28, 2012 11:15PM
Poor decision making at a catastrophic level defines this era of ABC daytime.
Mar 29, 2012 12:04AM
ABC/Disney royally screwed up. There were many different ways they could have kept these soaps on, but they thought viewers could be trained to love whatever bull show they put on the air.... Clearly they were wrong and are paying the price not only with viewers but in the media.
Mar 28, 2012 10:00PM
Disney/ABC does not know what the heck to do at all. Why would they even put the Revolution on the air other than money? Gone is the former quality of the network and even if GH stays, which I always thought it would, especially after the worst performance of any show in daytime (the revolution). Personally I would not want any of them telling me how to live much less how to dress and live a healthy life. They can try to pacify us with their "night time soaps" but I will not be watching. They need to bring back at least one of the cancelled shows and then they might get some viewers back.
Mar 28, 2012 8:50PM
Please Disney stick with General Hospital as it is a very good program that People still want to watch. If General Hospital goes so will most ABC & Disney venues. Keep millions of loyal viewers at least a little happy, keep General Hospital alive. All My Children and One Life To Live have already been taken away even though the viewers told you we did not want the replacements. The Chew and the Revolution are not doing as well, especially the Revolution. The Revolution needs to go and so does the Chew. We want to be entertained not Redone as the Revolution claims to do. I don't know whom they think they are redoing as nobody I know is watching it! We want escapism not to be told how to cook, dress, run our families, etc. We know how to dress, cook, care for our children and how to run our families. If advice is not asked for please do not try to give it to us in television form. If we want advice we will ask the appropriate people! Thanks that is my opinion.
Mar 29, 2012 12:39AM
Soap fans have united.  Until ABC gets it together and brings back the soaps they cancelled, the boycott continues.  I watch GH and that is it.
Mar 28, 2012 11:39PM
I have to agree my heart belongs to AMC and OLTL..I truly miss them both everyday.  ABC/Disney made a huge mistake by cancelling both shows and replacing them with show that nobody wants to watch.  We don't want any more reality shows, talk shows  and that what we got and we are not watching them..Bring back the soaps! Save ABC daytime!
Mar 29, 2012 1:31AM

Keeping a tight grip on spoilers is a brilliant move. GH is NOT the least watched drama. If it were it wouldn't be the MOST talked about in online forums, twitter, message boards. The ratings do not accurately show how many of us are watching, the ratings don't count all the ways in which we are watching. I've recorded and watched GH for 30+ years. How many reality shows can you say that about?

If GH does get the ax in September, this viewer will not be watching ABC, daytime, prime time, none of it, period.

Mar 29, 2012 2:06PM

Keep GH and put AMC and OLTL back and we will start watching ABC again!  The replacement shows are horrible!  Who on earth wants to watch Katie Couric in the afternoon?


Mar 29, 2012 7:24AM
I LOVE GENERAL HOSPITAL!  What a turn around for this particular Soap!  It is a must watch everyday!  Totally awesome and truly enjoying the arrival of those from One Life To Live!  RC and FV are the dream team!  LOVE LOVE LOVE GH!!  I still want my OLTL back - as we all know, it should have NEVER been cancelled!  ABC needs to do a lot of repairing with their viewers as there is no trust with them anymore!  Here's hoping ABC starts making the right decisions for all concerned!  Thank you for this article as I am now hopeful!
Mar 29, 2012 2:15AM
I am LOVING General Hospital!!  It's truly been amazing and when I think it can't get any better, it gets even better! :)  It is just this awesome mix of everything... excitement, crime/hospital/family drama, so funny... so hard to sum it up in a few words.  ABC really should PROMOTE GH during primetime, and SHOW people what they are missing.  Ratings would be SURE to skyrocket, and ABC could make more money and we wouldn't have to worry about losing GH.  I ask ABC to please keep GH and to please promote it during primetime, at least for awhile, during popular shows like Revenge and Once Upon a Time to get the ratings way up.  There is something special about GH that would appeal to so many people if they were just shown what they have been missing.... ABC needs to reach out to that untapped "market".....
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