'Grey's,' 'Gilmore' see surge

Nielsen has taken its ratings game to college campuses for the first time, and the early results are good news for young-skewing programs.

It’s not surprising that primetime shows with young auds like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Gilmore Girls” have seen their ratings spike up, but a few daytime soap operas have also been big beneficiaries.

Looking at data for Jan. 29-Feb. 2 — the first week that Nielsen included viewing estimates of students living away from home — NBC’s young-skewing combo of “Days of Our Lives” and “Passions” shot up by more than 30% week to week among adults 18-24. ABC’s “General Hospital” and CBS’ “Guiding Light” also benefited, climbing more than 20%.

“Passions” was the biggest gainer, with Nielsen reporting week-to-week gains among women 18-24 of 39% (to 223,000 from 160,000). This translated into a 16% change in the program’s core sales demo of adults 18-34.

“Days,” meanwhile, shot up 33% in women 18-24 (231,000 from 174,000) and grew by 20% — the most of any show — in the broader 18-34 category (582,000 from 490,000). It also tied for second place among daytime dramas in adults 18-49, up from third the previous week.

It’s also not surprising that “General Hospital,” a favorite of college women since the heyday of Luke and Laura in the 1980s, would see a ratings spike. But it was something of a nice surprise for CBS that two of the oldest-skewing soaps, “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns,” could also benefit from the Nielsen methodology change.

Eye’s “Young and the Restless,” though, the season’s No. 1 daytime drama among adults 18-49 and 25-54, has a broader audience and wasn’t among the week-to-week demo gainers.

A boost in Nielsen ratings — especially among young adults — means increased advertising revenue. And such a boost could make the difference between cancellation or survival.

It looks to be too late for “Passions,” though, as the 8-year-old show announced last month that it will shut down later this year. But if “Days” continues to rise, it may be able to quell talk that it will end its lengthy run in 2009 when its contract with NBC is up.

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