Have Facebook Games Stolen Soap Opera Audiences?

We’re not lamenting the demise of the soap opera genre but we don’t think the rise of Facebook games like CityVille explain why the tired old television show format is finally disappearing.

While we’ve seen some examples of stay-at-home moms whose addictions to Zynga games in particular run so deep that it cost their children’s lives, that doesn’t account for the way that reality television programming has been killing off scripted shows including soap operas.

ABC’s cancellation of “All My Children” and “One Life To Live” apparently mark the end of the soap opera genre — or maybe it’s the beginning of the end — as both shows had 41-year runs.

But usage of social media, and online content in general, appears to overlap with television viewership, according to data from the likes of Nielsen. Visit a typical living room in the U.S., and you’ll probably see a television playing while at least one person surfs the web via a laptop or handheld device.

So while we appreciate the originality of AdWeek‘s Mike Shields suggesting that Zynga has killed soap operas, well, we don’t see one replacing the other. But we’re going to stop shy of generalizing about the audience demographics for social games versus television programming because both continue to diversify for an ever-widening array of palettes.

Instead, let’s see what you think, dear readers: What patterns have you observed in the way people play social games — do they lend themselves to multitasking or intent focus?

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