Soap opera is a very common word these days. But, these words were not coined suddenly. More than seventy years ago, a lot of radio programs that were aired in America were generally sponsored by the soap companies. These so called programs contained stories that had a lot of dilemmas and sentiments that are generally common with the stage operas.
American started calling such shows as 'Soap Opera'. Later, as technological advancements continued, the television came into existence. Within a short time, all these programs found their way to the television sets. Once these programs were broadcast on TV, the popularity multiplied by manifolds making operas as one of the most popular shows on television.
Some of the most popular television operas are Coronation Street, The Archers, and Neighbors to name a few. But, operas were not confined in American television only, British and Australian television channels also cashed in and made operas popular in their respective countries
The popularity of these soap operas had become so huge, that nobody wanted to leave any space to churn profits out of it. Some of the big names in manufacturing items of daily use especially soaps, such as Procter and Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Pepsodent, have used soap operas as their platform to target potential buyers. As a matter of fact, these companies want the soap operas to go and on. The term 'soap opera' became popular from the dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers.
Homemakers are the ones who control the purse in every home. So the soap companies thought it to be a great opportunity to earn money just by sponsoring the opera shows. This yielded great results. These programs were initially broadcast on radio and later shifted to television. And one more thing. Most of the soap operas are aired during daytime. This is because the wives stay at home during that time.
Soap operas that are aired in the evening are different, especially in its format. They generally feature the cast in every episode and try to portray the storylines in each episode.
A major change in the soap operas came in April 1963 when NBC and ABC launched two shows titled 'The Doctors' and 'General Hospital', respectively. Though these were not the first medical soaps, but they were the first to capture the imaginations of the viewers and passed the test of time. And then there was the launch of several digests and weeklies that covered stories of the actors of opera soaps. These magazines were an overnight hit as people made a beeline to read those. One of the prominent names of one such magazine is Soap Opera Weekly. The magazine carries detailed stories on the actors, their lifestyles and carried a capsule on the stories. Today, there are thousands who either buy the magazines or check out all the details on the net.
Some of today's top American soap shows are The Young and the Restless, The Bold And The Beautiful, General Hospital, Days Of Our Lives, As The World Turns, All My Children, One Life To Live, Guiding Light and Passions.
Though there are hundreds of actors who make the soap opera extremely addictive, some of the more prominent actors are Julian Bailey, Haluk Bilginer, Yvonne Brewster, Melanie Clark Pullen, Doña Croll, Alan Dale, Raúl Davila, Libby Davison, Justin Torkildsen, Douglass Watson, Maura West, Karen Westwood to name a few.
With over 200 million in viewer ship, soap operas are one of the most watched programs in television, may be except soccer or tennis. Though women were the prime targets initially, a recent study revealed that since the late 1980s, the male viewer ship rose dramatically. However, as the number of television channels go on increasing and women joining men in their workplace, the growth of soap opera viewer ship is not increasing as rapidly as before.
As viewer ship continues to increase, a number of magazines and weeklies totally dedicated to soap operas are printed across the world especially in America. Besides, many awards have also been introduced to honor excellence in daytime television. Some of the most recognized wards are the Daytime Emmy Awards, the Dankies, American Latino Media Arts (ALMA) Awards, Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards to name a few. There are also several soap opera magazines that host awards shows of their own.