What You Need to Know: ‘General Hospital’ Has Higher Ratings Than ‘GMA3’ But Way Less Support From ABC
GMA3 gets the full promotional push from ABC while General Hospital spends its 60th anniversary being ignored- even though the soap opera pulls in more viewers.
Sure GMA3 seems like the hottest show on daytime television with all the buzz it’s been getting. The affair between Amy Robach and TJ Holmes has drawn much attention to ABC’s afternoon extension of Good Morning America. But the show must have been hot beforehand, or else why would anybody care? The show got way more attention from both ABC and the press than General Hospital even before the affair- there must be ratings to back that up, right?
To make sense of it all, I looked at the last ten weeks of ratings for both GH and GMA3 to get an idea of how the two compare.
General Hospital kicks GMA3’s ass in total viewers
GMA3 pulled in an average of 1,558,000 viewers between September 20 and 11/25. It went as low as 1,445,000 and as high as 1,619,000.
General Hospital pulled in an average of 2,141,000 viewers in the same ten weeks- about 583,000 more than GMA3. And the shows never got close, either. GH outperformed GMA by at least 33% and as much as 42% in viewers- and generally was on the higher end of that range.
For those fellow rating nerds, and maybe some of you wondering about the oft-mentioned, rarely attained demographics? You know, the usual talking point used to prove soap operas aren’t as popular among the audiences advertisers love. Let’s find out, shall we?
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General Hospital beat GMA3 in women 18 to 49 by 51%
Among women 18-49, General Hospital pulled in a 0.32 rating which translates to roughly 210,000 viewers. That’s far better than GMA3, which pulled in 141,000 viewers to earn a 0.21 rating in the demographic.
What’s most impressive about the 60 year old soap beating GMA3 in this demographic is just how much of an advantage it held. General Hospital performed 51% better among the demographic of younger women than GMA3- which is a surprise since it only had a 37% lead in total viewers. This indicates that GH has a younger skewing audience overall – which is a big surprise.
While the 18 to 49 demographic is talked about often, networks like ABC have embraced the slightly older 25 to 54 demographic as its target audience. In daytime, that means female viewers aged 25 to 54 are sought after. News programs do particularly well in that demographic across all time periods not just in daytime.
Women 25 – 54
This appears to be true since GMA3 did slightly better in women 25 to 54, earning a 0.32 rating and 200,000 viewers in the demographic. GMA3 had to at least close the gap with GH since the news/talk show format resonates with that demographic. Right?
Wrong. GH averaged a 0.53 rating among women 25 to 54, with roughly 328,000 viewers in the demographic.
GMA3 lags General Hospital in the news-friendly demographic of women 25-54
In the demographic that the network and advertisers see as the most valuable in daytime, and one that news programs excel with, GH blew GMA3 out of the water by 64%.
This flies in the face of years of research led the networks that concluded that women in the age groups of 18-49 and 25-54 no longer wanted to be entertained by soaps as much as they wanted to be informed by talk shows with a news magazine feel.
While Good Morning America and World News Tonight perform well among women 25 to 54, and GMA3 is heavily promoted as the afternoon bridge between the two programs, it still ranked well below both and behind GH. And somehow, GMA3 has continued to be deemed worthy of constant on-air promotion including multiple television spots throughout the day. Even with lower ratings, ABC is committed to doing anything and everything to ensure brand awareness for GMA3.
ABC spends the bare minimum on General Hospital- and is always looking to spend less
Meanwhile, General Hospital has cut its budget down what some estimate is a production budget of 36 million dollars a year for 250 episodes of scripted programming with a massive cast. That budget works out to be, $144,000 an episode, which means the show can recoup its budget by charhing as little as $3600 for each of the forty 30-second ads in each episode of GH. THe show more often than not charges much more. The profits are not reinvested into the show.
General Hospital promoted Tamron Hall’s show with a guest spot and worked GMA3 into a storyline.
The network does little by way of promotion of General Hospital, save for some brief weekly previews. Cross promotion with other ABC shows is rare- and when it happens it is not for the veteran soap opera’s benefit. The intended beneficiary of the corporate synergy is always the type of program meant to supplant shows like General Hospital. For example, Tamon Hall made a guest appearance on GH to promote herDisney/ABC produced talk show which aired on ABC’s owned and operated stations in nationwide syndication.
Guest spots can be intrusive but aren’t uncommon. ABC went a step further by making the promotion for GMA3 a major plot point by having a character take part in an interview segment that was airing live on GMA3. Much attention was paid by the camera to highlight the branding from GMA3 on the set.
In both cases, GH took the time to force in inorganic elements to the show to promote these talk shows. It would be far easier for a talk show to promite GH- and you would assume that would happen.
Neither Tamron Hall, GMA3 or any ABC program promotes General Hospital
Neither GMA3 nor Tamron Hall have returned the favor by promoting the many storylines unfolding on the show, nor did they feature the many successful men and women who won Emmy’s this past year and none of them celebrated the iconic 45 years that Genie Francis, Leslie Charleson and Kin Shriner hit this year. GMA3 could have easily done a segment addressing the firestorm on social media being caused by popular couples like Valentin and Anna or Spencer and Trina.
In all fairness, GMA3 did not promote its own love story either, despite the social media buzz.
So now, GH is in the midst of its 60th season and celebrating the milestone officially on April 1st. No other show on the air has been on as long as GH; no other show managed become a pop culture phenomenon on the same level as GH. Does ABC not want to acknowledge how big of a deal it is?
GMA3 pulls in less than 1.9 million viewers on it’s best day
And yet, General Hospital is outperforming GMA3 in total viewers, performing even better among both key demographics despite such viewers having long rejected soaps for the likes of GMA3. One last fact: the much buzzed-about episode immediately following the news breaking about the affair between TJ and Amy pulled in a much higher-than-normal audience. GMA3 climbed to 1,810,000 viewers on that single day. With all the buzz and excitement, GMA3 has yet to surpass General Hospital in any measurement that counts.
When all is said and done, close to 4 million people watch General Hospital across all platforms
Based on the same-day ratings alone, it’s clear that GH is a more popular show than GMA3. Looking at the bigger picture, which includes the viewers who watch episodes on their schedule via DVR recording, an audience where GH increases its audience by another 20 percent for a total of 2,550,000 viewers. Unfortunately for GMA3, live news programs/talk shows rarely see much more than a percentage point increase in their audience after an episode initially airs.
Of course, while including DVR gives us a better idea of how many people watch GH- It’s still not complete. At least a million more viewers watch GH via Video-On-Demand services offered by a cable carrier or stream the show on ABC.com and Hulu. That number could be even higher- although I can’t be sure. However, I am positive that more people watch GH than GMA3, no matter how you slice it.
Will ABC ever treat General Hospital with the respect it deserves?
While all eyes are on ABC over the future of GMA3, I have a better question. When will ABC give the longest-running television show on the air the credit it’s due? Will it treat the 60th anniversary of GH like the milestone that it Is? Will ABC realize that GH is more than just a collection of six decades worth of memories – it’s valuable to the network right now?
What do you think about GH being treated like an afterthought to GMA3 despite having a much bigger audience?