1954-55 Soap Ratings

Search for Tomorrow, Guiding Light, and Love of Life continued into the 1954-55 season as the dominant soaps, with Guiding Light once again rising in the ratings from the previous year. Its retention Search for Tomorrow increased to 96%, and its average HH rating was up over five points from its first season. Once again, Valiant Lady was the lowest-rated soap in the noon hour, but still performed significantly better than all soaps airing outside of that hour. 

CBS saw a 12% increase in HH ratings in the 4 pm time slot from the previous year, with The Brighter Day moving from 1 pm to replace 1953-54’s Woman with a Past. That combined with The Secret Storm at 4:15 pm gave CBS a respectable soap half-hour outside of the dominant noon hour.

CBS’s struggles with soaps came in the 1 pm hour. Portia Faces Life, which was renewed for a second season despite already low ratings at 1:15, was shifted to 1 pm to air after Guiding Light. Ratings went even lower, and a rename to The Inner Flame did not save it from cancelation. Lead-out The Seeking Heart didn’t make it out of fall 1954 alive, with midseason replacement The Road of Life going even lower and getting canceled by the end of the season.

NBC did a massive expansion with soaps, still making sure to stay away from CBS’s noon hour. Their top-rated show was the new soap Modern Romances, which averaged an 8.5 Household rating and tied for fifth place overall. Notably not NBC’s highest-rated soap was Hawkins Falls, which picked an inconvenient time to plummet in the ratings — down 34% year-to-year to a 7.7 rating. That was still enough to be NBC’s #2 soap, but not enough to get renewed for another season.

New soap Way of the World started the season airing at 10:30 am before transitioning to 4 pm while Hawkins Falls was on summer break. Like Hawkins Falls, Way of the World was ultimately canceled. It was lower-rated than One Man’s Family and Concerning Miss Marlowe, both of which also got canceled. NBC did renew First Love, which aired after Hawkins Falls and, like Way of the World, performed worse than both One Man’s Family and Concerning Miss Marlowe. All four shows rated higher than CBS’s lowest-rated soaps. 

The same cannot be said for Three Steps to Heaven, Golden Windows, and The Greatest Gift. Three Steps to Heaven was rejected in its 10:45 am time slot, and was canceled by the winter. Golden Windows and The Greatest Gift flopped in two time slots each, but the network was at least patient with them. Originally airing in the 3 pm half-hour, they were shifted to the 3:30 pm half-hour upon the midseason cancelations of One Man’s Family and Concerning Miss Marlowe.


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