Soap Opera and Television Series are two concepts we encounter everyday in our television life. There are several popular Nigerian soap opera and TV series which are featured on several cable TV channels. Nigeria TV series are in fact, part of the daily routine of many people in the country. Same goes for Nigerian soap opera. But do you really know the exact difference between the two concepts – soap opera and TV series? This is a very crucial explanation anyone in the communication and related discipline should get acquainted with. We either mix up or use these key concepts interchangeably almost on a daily basis. But this explanation by Louis Cohen, a retired programmer, is so simple and concise that you might never mix the two concepts up again. Communication scholars in Nigeria, people who are in related disciplines and in deed everyone, should read this piece.
Difference Between Soap Opera and TV Series
Soap opera is a type of tv series.
A TV series is any recurring program. Most series have about 13 episodes for each season. There are some mini-series with 3–4 episodes; these are more like one long movie shown in segments.
Soap operas are dramatic series that deal with the relationships, mainly romantic, among the regular characters. They have been shown mainly during the daytime and are aimed at housewives and house husbands. I remember that the first primetime (evening) soap opera was a big deal.
Most soaps are shown daily on weekdays. Unlike most dramatic tv series, which are weekly, the cast, crew, and writers of soaps have to work quickly to get 5 episodes a week on the air.
The origin of the name is that they were originally sponsored by makers of household cleaning products; the target audience was housewives (at the time, fewer women than today worked outside the home). The “opera” part of the name comes from the strong emotional content of the shows; characters always falling in and out of love with each other, cheating on spouses, etc.
Within the industry, people prefer the name “daytime drama” to soap opera.
Many people who have a favorite soap opera that they watch regularly refer to it as “my story”.
These kinds of shows are very popular on Spanish language TV where they are known as telenovelas.