CBS stops the globe on "As The World Turns"

After 54 years on CBS’ daytime schedule, the globe will stop spinning on As The World Turns come September 17 of next year.

The cancellation was made official today by CBS, and as a result, Procter & Gamble Productions is likely no more.

As The World Turns began on April 2, 1956 as a thirty-minute serial – the same day another P&G-produced soap (The Edge of Night) premiered on CBS. The program began broadcasting in color in 1967 and expanded to a full hour in December 1975 to fill the vacant half-hour left after The Edge of Night departed for ABC, becoming the first soap to move to a rival network (Night would end its run in late 1984.)

In 1963, As The World Turns was in progress – being performed live – when it was interrupted for a very important news bulletin – the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Throughout its long run, As The World Turns racked up numerous Daytime Emmy Awards, with the last Outstanding Drama Award win coming in 2003.

The program had been airing in the 2 p.m.Eastern/1 p.m. Central time slot since March 1987, and has been cleared in-pattern with a strong 99 percent clearance rate. But since sister series Guiding Light left the airwaves on September 18 after a 72-year run (on both radio and TV), Turns has fallen into the soap opera ratings basement, with just a little over 2 million viewers per day.

With the departure of Turns, Procter & Gamble has no daytime serials left, with one after the other leaving the airwaves: in addition to Edge of Night leaving in 1984, Search For Tomorrow exited in 1986, followed by Another World in 1999, and Guiding Light this year.

As The World Turns’ departure means there will be only six daytime serials left on the broadcast networks’ sked next fall – the fewest at this point in television history. Twenty years ago, there were as many as twelve soaps on the networks’ schedules. 

CBS – which has been the daytime leader for more than 20 years – will replace Turns with either a game show or a talk show, which are cheaper to produce than scripted soapers. Those plans are bad news for syndicators, who have an abundance of product and are looking for timeslots for the 2010 season.

The move comes only a day after Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution pulled the plug on The Bonnie Hunt Show, after two seasons.