Hard Habit To Break

Soap-opera stars have strong bonds with their viewers

The two-hour Daytime Emmy Awards show, now in its 32nd year, always
draws a solid, if not spectacular, audience in its spring prime time slot. Even
as ratings for soap operas decline and daytime programs of all genres face
similar challenges, the awards show typically averages about a 6.0 overall
rating, regardless of which network hosts it. In large part, that is because
daytime fans are loyal to “their” soap operas or favorite talk-show hosts.
This year, the show airs May 20 at 9 p.m. on CBS.

Other TV awards shows have seen their Nielsen ratings falter this
season. In the latest example, NBC's airing of the Golden Globes this year
attracted fewer viewers than at any time since 1996, its 5.7 rating in the
18-49 demo off 40% from the previous year.

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) announced
pre-nominations for the Daytime Emmys at the end of January. As part of that
process, casts of the 10 soap operas choose two actors or actresses apiece from
their show for each of the six acting categories. A screening panel of cast
members from each show then narrows down that list to the field of nominees,
which is slated to be announced March 2 on CBS' The
Early Show.

Peter Price, president of NATAS, refers to both the daytime and prime
time Emmys as “the Everest peaks of the television industry.”

Whether they're the Everest peaks or just the Catskills, the Daytime
Emmys have also become something of a New York event each May, largely because
of the fierce loyalties of soap viewers. Like the Thanksgiving Day Parade in
November, the parade of soap-opera stars from the red carpet into Radio City
Music Hall attracts throngs of enthusiastic spectators each year. “It's not
just a television awards show,” Price says. “It's kind of a New York