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Monday, October 07, 2013

Young people aren't bored enough for EastEnders any more

Interesting item on Radio Four's always excellent Media Show last week (you can listen here) about the declining popularity of British soaps.

In the last twenty years Coronation Street has gone from averaging over 20 million viewers to around 11 million. EastEnders has lost two million viewers since 2006 and sometimes comes second to Emmerdale in the ratings.

People inside the world of soaps think this might have something to do with too many episodes and not enough focus on strong stories.

People outside the world of soaps - like me, for instance - wonder if this might mean that in the multi-channel universe new generations of viewers never have the leisure to develop the soap habit. That's not to say they're frantically busy. They're probably not. But any idle time they have is hoovered up by YouTube clips, endless X-Factor spin-offs or faction formats like the Kardashians. In this climate it's hard for a soap to get started on people. Nobody was ever magnetised by a soap. Soap works on people who are bored. Young people aren't bored any more. They're fidgety and distracted but never actually bored enough to devote the time it would take to work out what was going on in EastEnders.