‘The Bachelor’: ABC Reality Boss Talks Ratings Success, Diversity Backlash

Last night, Peter Weber was unveiled, perhaps unsurprisingly, as the next Bachelor during the season finale of “Bachelor in Paradise.”

Weber’s selection coincided with a season-high rating for “Paradise,” and caps a solid ratings summer for the “Bachelor” franchise. As ratings have been in decline across the board this summer, “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise” have been the two shows holding firm.

“The Bachelorette” was the only show to grow among adults 18-49 from last summer to this one, with a 2.1 average Nielsen rating as opposed to a 2.0 last year (those figures include a week of delayed viewing). It currently stands as the top rated broadcast series of the summer so far, a first for the show, narrowly ahead of “America’s Got Talent.”

But how has the show managed to avoid the ratings slump which has plagued almost every other network series this summer? ABC reality chief Rob Mills attributes a lot of its ratings success to the “Bachelorette” herself, Hannah Brown.

Mills and co. were initially unsure how popular Brown would be when they were selecting her, given her “fiery spirit,” but Mills says she grew as the season went on and as a result the ratings “crescendoed at the end with the finale.” Whereas previous “Bachelorettes” ended up with a man firmly fixed to their arm, Brown’s season ended in drama and uncertainty when her choice, Jed Wyatt, was revealed to have been dating another woman just prior to joining the show.

Brown tossed him aside, meaning she didn’t end up with anyone, but viewers were aware of Wyatt’s dishonesty several weeks prior to Brown, which Mills says is one of the reasons the show grew in small increments each of the final six weeks.

“People kept tuning in and screaming at the TV, ‘Hannah there’s a bomb in the room,’ and eventually it blew up,” he says.

“The Bachelor in Paradise” has also performed solidly this summer, averaging a 1.22 rating on its Tuesday broadcasts and a 1.12 on Wednesdays. Weber’s unveiling provided a 15% bump in the ratings week to week.

However, Mills admits he anticipates there will be backlash to Weber’s selection, on account of the show once again selecting a white “Bachelor.” Since the franchise’s debut in 2002, there has been no black “Bachelor” and one black “Bachelorette” of color with Season 13 leading lady Rachel Lindsay.

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