The producers of the long-running soap opera released the whole of the cast from their contracts and the series will go into indefinite hiatus at the end of the month, according to TVLine. The move comes as Sony Pictures Television and NBC negotiate over renewing the series.
The decision comes just days after the show celebrated its 54th anniversary, during which it commemorated the occasion with a narrative time-jump skipping ahead a year.
If this is truly the end for the NBC staple, it leaves only three American soap operas airing in what used to be an extremely lucrative genre. Only ABC’s “General Hospital,” which got its start in 1963, has been on the air longer than “Days,” with two CBS series, “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” still hanging on.
Wondering what killed the daytime soap? The answers – working women, and O.J. Simpson, and Judge Judy – might surprise you.
As more women joined the workforce, the daytime TV saw a decline in its target audience, which makes sense. But more interesting is the long-term effects for the industry, in which soaps saw a decrease in generational viewership because children no longer watched as their mothers watched, meaning fewer new fans were created.
Then there’s the issue of of real life becoming far more extreme than even the soapiest of soap operas, give or take Marlena’s demonic possession on “Days.” The infamous trial of O.J. Simpson and its broadcast virtually destroyed its daytime TV competition, with soap operas left limping after the 1994-95 television season. And they never recovered, with 10% of their viewership never returning to their stories.
Plus, there’s just more competition beyond the basic broadcast networks, with myriad cable and streaming offerings, not to mention syndicated programming that doesn’t require audiences to keep up with convoluted story lines that may or may not have been in the works for several decades.
Recent years have seen many shows in the genre cease production, including CBS series “Guiding Light” in 2009 and “As The World Turns” in 2010, as well as ABC soaps “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” in 2011.
It’s this history to keep in mind as the “Days of our Lives” drama unfolds. But there’s still hope for fans if worst comes to worst: Because the series shoots eight months in advance, “Days” will continue running well into 2020.