NBC WEIGHS REPLACING TWO LOW-RATED SOAPS, ONE FROM CREATOR P&G: REVAMPED LINEUP WOULD RETURN HOUR TO AFFILIATES, AID SYNDICATORS

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In a major shift in daytime, NBC is seriously discussing the elimination from its schedule of soap operas "Another World" and "Sunset Beach," according to an executive close to the talks.

Previously, NBC said it is likely to drop one of the soaps to make way for the July debut of a new daytime drama, "Passions." News that the network may drop both low-rated shows startled some agency media executives and TV station managers.

"Given the cost structure, I would have thought that keeping at least one of those shows would be profitable," said one agency executive.

An executive close to NBC said, "If the network gets most affiliates to run its 3-hour daytime schedule in pattern, and you combine that with NBC's owned stations running some syndicated programming in the freed up slots, it's probably more profitable for NBC overall. Or, perhaps their stations run other programming that they develop."

AFFILIATES, ADVERTISERS AFFECTED

Dropping both soaps would have major implications for the network and its affiliates, syndicators and advertisers.

The network would be losing an hour of daytime programming, and both the programming costs and ad revenues associated with it. But it would allow NBC to tighten up its daytime inventory.

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

Most affiliates would be getting an hour back, which would be a golden opportunity for syndicators.

The new schedule, if given the go-ahead, would include "Later Today" after the "Today" show-or an hour after that if affiliates have existing contracts for syndicated fare-and then, in the afternoon, the highly rated "Days of Our Lives" followed by "Passions."

"Passions" is from the pen of Jim Reilly, the former head writer of "Days," and there are high expectations for the show. "Days" is the top-rated soap in the 18-to-34- year-old demographic, and No. 2 in adults 18 to 49, according to season-to-date ratings data from Nielsen Media Research.

"Sunset Beach" is dead last in the 18 to 49 demographic, and "Another World" comes in No. 9 among the 11 daytime network soaps on the air. In the 18-to-34-year-old demo, "Another World" is eighth and "Sunset Beach" is No. 10.

35-YEAR-OLD WORKHORSE

"Another World," the 35-year-old workhorse from Procter & Gamble Productions, has almost universal clearance but has been a performance laggard. A P&G spokeswoman said the company continues to improve the show.

If NBC cancels the shows, they could be picked up by another network or be syndicated. But that would be a long-shot scenario.

P&G, which also produces "As the World Turns" and "Guiding Light" on CBS, had "The Edge of Night" canceled by ABC in 1984, after a run of 28 years. But ABC picked it up. The P&G spokeswoman, when asked if it would shop "Another World"

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