Are Female Viewers Killing Daytime TV?

Daytime TV is in a slump. Soap operas are being put out to pasture. (So long, Guiding Light. Nice knowing you, As The World Turns.) Talk show audiences are eroding -- and that includes Oprah's top-rated one. And Oprah herself is on her way out, with Tyra following soon after. Game shows? They've been dwindling for years.

Some media experts predict that the medium won't survive in its current form -- at least not without making big changes. So, who's to blame for its slow demise? Well, you might say the culprit is ... women. Here's why.

We're at work. Daytime TV audiences are largely made up of the fairer sex. But in the last 30 years, career opportunities for women have abounded -- and we've seized them. Sure, women's rights advocates are still fighting for salaries and employment options commensurate with our male counterparts. But droves of females have joined the ranks of the law, medical and business professions, among others. Last summer, a USA Today story noted that women are about to overtake men in the workforce. It's a "historic reversal caused by long-term changes in women's roles and massive job losses for men during this recession," wrote Dennis Cauchon. "Women held 49.83% of the nation's 132 million jobs in June and they're gaining the vast majority of jobs in the few sectors of the economy that are growing, according to the most recent numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics."

We have other options. Multitasking alpha moms aren't going to schedule themselves around All My Children or Rachael Ray. We'll set our DVRs and watch it later: on the treadmill, after the kids are asleep. And nobody's in danger of missing a big television moment anymore. If you missed Elisabeth Hasselbeck breaking down in tears on The View, you can catch it later online. And while at your computer, you can post those long-overdue family photos on your Facebook page and return emails.

We get our fill of vicarious pleasure at night. We used to like soaps for some giddy fantasy fun, but these days, reality TV dating shows hit that spot just fine. "People are watching The Bachelor the way they would have watched General Hospital some years ago," said Brian Frons, president of daytime at Disney-ABC Television Group, in an article for The Wall Street Journal.

If the recent past is a predictor, then women will continue to flourish outside the home, far away from our couches. Daytime TV will have to figure out ways to adapt -- or continue to die a slow death.

Are you watching less TV during the day? Chime in below!

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