NBC soap “Days of Our Lives” celebrated its 50th anniversary last week and hit a 20-month ratings high in the process.
According to Nielsen, “Days” averaged 2.721 million viewers for the week of Nov. 2-6, rising 2% from the previous week (2.658 million) and 14% above two weeks (2.581 million). The show hasn’t drawn a larger audience since the week of Feb. 17-21, 2014 (2.836 million) during the network’s coverage of the Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia.
In the key daytime demo of women 18-49, “Days of Our Lives” rose week to week by 10% to a 0.87 rating, ranking fourth among all daytime network series. It was neck-and-neck with both ABC’s “General Hospital” (0.88) and CBS’ “Bold and the Beautiful” (0.86) after trailing both shows by more than 10% in the comparable week of last year.
“Days” was also up vs. the same week in 2014 by 15% in total viewers (from 2.373 million) and by 12% in women 25-54 rating (1.18 vs. 1.05), and its biggest improvement came among women 18-34 rating (up 49%, from 0.35 to 0.52).
The fictional town of Salem celebrated its bicentennial on air Nov. 8, the same day as the show’s 50th anniversary. “Days,” which hails from Corday Productions and Sony Pictures Television, premiered Nov. 8, 1965 as a half-hour daily soap and expanded to an hour in 1975. It can currently be seen in more than 25 countries worldwide.
“Days” had been picking up ratings steam of late even before its more recent growth spurt, with a Necktie Killer mystery and storylines involving longtime fan favorites helping to deliver some of the show’s best Nielsen numbers in more than a year. Fans have praised the show’s creative direction under new co-head writers Dena Higley and Josh Griffiths, whose episodes began to appear in September, and cast members like Kristian Alfonso (who has played Hope Williams Brady on and off since joining the show as a teenager in 1983) have noted a change on set as well.
Numerous former cast members have returned to front-burner storylines in recent weeks, including Peter Reckell (Bo Brady), Stephen Nichols (Steve “Patch” Johnson) and Thaao Penghlis (Andre DiMera). Alison Sweeney (Samantha Brady) has also been back after leaving the show as a regular about a year ago.