In September 1982, 'All My Children', "with its many subplots, has quietly taken over as the No. 1 daytime program in the Nielsen ratings from 'General Hospital'. The fact that they are both soap operas is interesting," Earle Copp of 'The Free Lance-Star' observed. "It means that soaps have come a long way from their original 15-minute radio versions in the 1930s. In a given hour any number of characters in a variety of situations will pop onto the small screen, and a new viewer will wonder how they all tie together."
"Soap operas are great entertainment," high school English teacher Beverly Knight told Ginger Lundy of the Spartanburg, South Carolina 'Herald-Journal' in 1987. Beverly started watching soaps since she was 12, "I record the ones on CBS and watch whatever I can before the news comes on. Then, I use them to fill in for the great American wasteland that occurs on television between 7:00 and 8:00pm."
Truck driver Vic Thompson confessed, "I started watching them (the soaps) because my wife watches them, and I got interested in them. I'm not hooked on them, but I would like to know who killed James Stenbeck on 'As The World Turns'?" Retiree Berta Dunbar disclosed, "I used to watch 'As The World Turns', but I got lost in that story. 'The Young and the Restless' is my favorite and the only one I looked at. It's better than have to read a novel."
Bill Shatten of the local station WSPA-TV in Spartanburg remarked, "When we have to preempt the soaps with special reports or programs like the Contra hearings, the switchboard immediately lights up with people wanting to know if their soap opera will still come on. At 12.30pm, they want to see 'The Young and the Restless'. Nothing else will do … Some people are so attached to these characters because they've been watching them for years and years, they know more about the characters than many of the actors who play them."
Steven Ford told 'United Press International' in 1982, "I get stopped all the time. When I go to the grocery store I usually put my glasses on and pull my baseball cap down and hide. Some of the women take the show so literally. Sometimes they'll say, 'Oh you've got to watch out for Jill – she's cheating on you!' I'd go along and say, 'You're kidding! Not my darling Jill?' But it's a little scarey sometimes to think that they take that show so literally."
Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press noted in 1983, "According to 'Variety', the show business weekly, a hit soap like 'General Hospital' can command up to $30,000 for a 30-second commercial and gross as much as $150 million a year." Back in 1980, Carol Wallace of 'New York Daily News' reported some 12 million viewers watched 'All My Children' each weekday and about 14 million viewers watched 'General Hospital'.
"In daytime programming the size and frequency of audiences are important," Michael Brockman of CBS explained. "If we can get the viewer who turns in once or twice a week to watch 3 times a week, we will be successful." To get more viewers watching regularly, Procter & Gamble reportedly spent a lot of money on production and promotion.
Senior high school student Chris Wilson admitted, "I get out of school at 1:00pm and 2 of my friends, Hugh and Andy and me get together at my house and watch 'Days of our Lives', 'Another World' and 'Santa Barbara. I think they're better than 'Dallas', 'Dynasty' and the nighttime soaps. Those are all so money-minded. My mom hates them. She won't even come in the same room if I'm watching them."
A professor of English, Malinda Maxfield believed, "There's just enough realism (in soap operas) that you can identify with them. They focus on contemporary issues, and the writers give you just enough you want to see how a character or event turns out." College sophomore Tammy Main argued, "It's escapism that helps you get away from studying and thinking about the big test you have coming up. It takes no brain power to watch and enjoy them."
Daytime shows were regarded the networks' moneymakers. It was understood an average, hour-long soap opera in the 1980s costed roughly $200,000 a week to make (or about $11 million a year to produce). 'All My Children' reportedly earned around $87 million a year in revenue for ABC. Hence to keep the continuing story running, one segment would pay for that week's productions costs. The income from the next 4 days was regarded the gravy train.
'Days of our Lives' had been described as "one of the last bastions of traditional family style soaps." That was because 'Days of our Lives' had been steadfastly clinging to its more traditional ways, centered on the doings of Salem's Horton family and dealt with issues such as unwed pregnancy, artificial insemination, interracial dating, adoption, blindness, deafness, money-hungry evangelists, drugs and the environment.