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General Hospital: Could the Soap Move to Primetime?

General HospitalWord is that ABC is considering the possibility of moving General Hospital to primetime during the summer months.

While the ratings for ABC’s only remaining soap opera aren’t very strong (especially by primetime standards), the show is comparatively inexpensive to produce. Episodes cost approximately $200,000 to make and primetime dramas which can cost more than a million.

There’s of course also the possibility that General Hospital will stay in daytime. ABC has said that they’d be releasing the final hour of daytime (2pm Central or 3pm Eastern/Pacific) back to the affiliates in September 2012, so they can fill it with their own programming. That will leave three hours of daytime for ABC to schedule.

The View is a huge success so that’s not going anywhere. ABC-owned stations have committed to a new Katie Couric talk show for fall and that will fill another hour. That leaves one hour left up for grabs. The Chew and The Revolution aren’t performing as well as the soaps they replaced but are cheaper to produce. Only one of them, or General Hospital, will likely survive.

Another possibility is that ABC could produce General Hospital for first-run syndication. This solution would allow ABC affiliates to keep the show in its current timeslot, if they chose to buy it. If not, other stations in the broadcast area could pick up the soap and put it in an available timeslot. As with any daytime solution, the declining viewership and cost would likely be a deterrent.

What do you think? Could GH realistically make a move to primetime for limited summer runs? Would you be in favor of that solution?

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