The Soap Opera Digest Awards is an awards show held by the daytime television magazine Soap Opera Digest. The awards were founded in 1984 to replace the less-lavish Soapy Award; those awards shows had run since 1977. The Soap Opera Digest Awards are meant to promote excellence in the soap opera genre and are decided by the fans who read the magazine. The statue itself is currently made of crystal, and is in the shape of a heart.
The first Soap Opera Digest Award show aired in 1984, and was featured on national syndicated television and hosted by then husband and wife Catherine Hickland and David Hasselhoff. One of the reasons for the move up was the new-found audience of both Daytime and Prime time soap operas. That year for the first time awards were given to prime time soap operas as well as daytime soaps. This practice was phased out in the 1990s as primetime soap operas began losing the large appeal they once had.
For the first two years fans themselves voted on the nominees list as well as the winners. Ballot stuffing and a voting bloc for the 1985 awards led to the side effect where Days of Our Lives swept almost every category. The third awards were changed so that the editors of the magazine chose the nominees and each reader was allowed only one ballot to vote for their favorites. This allowed other shows like Santa Barbara and Another World to take home trophies. A change in award season from the end of the year to the beginning meant that there was no show in 1987.
In 1992 the awards were broadcast live for the first time; in addition, the award statue (previously a flat crystal heart) was redesigned to be taller. NBC had been broadcasting the Soap Opera Digest Awards since the show made its way to network TV, but the show would no longer be seen on the network after the airing of the 2000 awards. The year 2001 marked the first time that there was no awards ceremony and voting was done entirely online. In 2003 the cable channel SOAPnet broadcast the awards which were hosted by Daytime Emmy nominated hosts Lisa Rinna and Ty Treadway.
No awards were given out in 2002 or 2004. The 2005 awards were done entirely through the magazine. Fans could find a ballot in a November issue of Soap Opera Digest and then mail it to the editors. Only one ballot per person was counted. The awards were announced in the magazine in February 2005.