The television season spans from September to May, so these numbers are incomplete in that summer ratings are not included. Rating indicates an estimation of the percentage of television households that tuned into a given program. While the number of households represented by a ratings point is ever changing - since, obviously, the number of households with televisions has never been constant - at present, a point represents approximately one million households. Rank notes how the ratings compared to the numbers that the other daytime dramas scored in the same season.

14th out of 14
  8th (tie) out of 15 
8th (tie) out of 14
9th out of 14
9th out of 13
7th out of 13
7th out of 15
9th out of 14
10th out of 13
11th out of 14
12th out of 14
13th out of 14
1987-88 n/a 12th out of 12
1988-89 n/a 13th out of 13

"We had the best actors, the best crew, the best scripts, the best of everything. How could we fail?"
~ Ryan's Hope director Lela Swift at the 1980 Emmys

I thought the quote was apropos of this topic. Well, I don't think it is entirely fair to say that Ryan's Hope did fail. Ryan's Hope was actually building an audience quite nicely, well into the 1980s (by comparison, I'd be willing to bet NBC would have killed for Passions to have gained almost 2 million viewers and nearly reached the middle of the pack by its second season). In one season, All My Children was the only ABC daytime drama to do better than Ryan's Hope in the ratings. Though, of course, these gains did not last, for a number of unfortunate reasons.

The drive, starting after creators Claire Labine and Paul Mayer sold the show to ABC in the early 1980s, toward more outlandish stories in order to make the show more like Gloria Monty's General Hospital certainly began the downward spiral. Then Labine and Mayer were ousted as head writers altogether and the focus of the show shifted to the self-indulgent lifestyle of the mega-rich Kirkland family in 1982, in what I suppose was an attempt to make the show more compatible with the "spirit" of the Reagan era. Claire and Paul returned in 1983, brought the show back to its roots, and won two back-to-back writing Emmys for the 1982-83 and 1983-84 seasons, only to leave once again (after less than a year) over further creative differences with ABC.

Then another new set of powers that be - producer Joe Hardy (whom Malachy McCourt deemed a "nincompoop") and head writer Pat Falken Smith - blew up Ryan's Bar, fired at least six veteran cast members, and shifted the focus onto new, younger characters. In the midst of viewers already defecting in response to that move, ABC moved the show's timeslot to noon in October 1984 - leading to low affiliate clearance and drastically dropping ratings - in order to give the 12:30 timeslot to the hitherto lower-rated Loving. Claire Labine finally returned as head writer in 1987, but, by that point, the show was already rated last and was not being aired in much of the country, and Labine was back no more than a year when the Writer's Guild went on strike for six months. Finally, when Claire and her team had been back at work only two months after the strike ended - and a month or so after their scripts had resumed airing - ABC announced that they were canceling Ryan's Hope.

For more information on the factors leading to the show's cancellation, there are several articles on the subject posted on this site.

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