TLC’s transformation into The 90 Day Channel continues! The network launched two successful new series under their 90 Day Fiance umbrella in the past couple months, both of which have been very successful. Spin-off The Family Chantel surprised a lot of fans by setting a franchise record on July 22 with 1.527 million viewers tuning in for the premiere! Meanwhile, 90 Day Fiance: The Other Way debuted with 1.232 million viewers on June 3, and has since grown its audience astronomically.
When TLC first announced that Chantel’s often-times over-the-top family would be getting their own spin-off, the overall reaction on social media seemed to be a collective groan as many fans expressed “more stupider” fatigue — especially immediately following 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After. However, the fatigue wasn’t enough to keep curious fans from tuning in! The big numbers are even more impressive given that the show didn’t follow the Happily Ever After: Couples Tell on Sunday night.
While The Family Chantel featured a cast familiar to TLC viewers, 90 Day Fiance: The Other Way was an entirely new concept with a cast comprised of five brand new couples. Of course, the show wasn’t completely devoid of familiar faces as Before the 90 Days alumnae Karine and Paul Staehle were also included.
The Other Way premiered on Monday, June 3, which was a new night for TLC’s Sunday night juggernaut. As mentioned above, the premiere brought in just over 1.2 million viewers — which is a huge number for the first episode of a completely brand new cable series.
The Other Way has turned out to be a shining example of the winning formula perfected by Sharp Productions, with incredibly entertaining casting and amazing story telling. Plus, the new series is a wonderful new experience for viewers in that most of the filming is taking place in various foreign countries — many of them dramatically different than the United States. As a result, the audience for the show has grown dramatically in the nine weeks since its premiere.
After debuting with 1.232 million viewers on June 3, the viewership has grown by almost 50 percent to 1.801 million for the August 5 episode! That is simply astounding, and qualifies as a GIGANTIC hit for the network and for producers. The episode brought in more live viewers Monday night than any other reality show on cable, including VH1’s perennial powerhouse Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood! To be honest, The Other Way‘s current ratings are a much bigger story than The Family Chantel premiere numbers!
Speaking of The Family Chantel, it has not seen the growth in viewers like The Other Way. It’s actually gone down a bit since the premiere, but that only makes sense in that the concept doesn’t seem to lend itself to attracting lots of new viewers, but more to try to lock in a certain percentage of viewers who were already watching Chantel and Pedro on 90 Day Fiance and Happily Ever After.
After premiering with 1.527 million viewers, the second episode dipped to 1.386. The third episode rebounded to 1.472, which would seem to suggest that the dip was just that. I think anything above one million would have been regarded as a success for the series, so TLC, Sharp, and The Family Chantel must be smiling more than Pedro’s sister when he’s getting a lap dance from a woman other than his wife!
Sharp’s success has grown beyond TLC over the last couple years. The production company traded country borders and long distances for prison bars to create their popular Love After Lockup franchise on WE tv. The show hit the ground running with strong ratings, especially for WE tv, and the series has continued to grow its viewership steadily. It has even launched a successful spin-off already, Love After Lockup: Life After Lockup!
Unfortunately, it appears that the “romance with an obstacle” formula isn’t full proof. Sharp’s new Marrying Millions series for Lifetime, which documents couples from vastly different economic classes (and often age groups), does not appear to be doing well. After premiering with just 459,000 viewers on July 10, the show saw a bump up to 602,000 the following week. However, the next two episodes dipped to 546,000 and 534,000.
It’s still too early to tell for sure whether or not Marrying Millions will be able to grow an audience, but Sharp’s new shows (not counting The Family Chantel) have always been able to demonstrate healthy growth early on. I’ve been enjoying Marrying Millions, and it certainly has a very similar feel to the 90 Day Fiance shows as well as Love After Lockup. However, I do think the wealthy aspect results in a much more difficult challenge getting cast members that come across as authentic and/or a complete train wreck.
Another issue I see (as a fan) with Marrying Millions as opposed to Sharp’s other romance reality series is that the red flags that are so central to the relationships being entertaining to fans (“She’s just marrying you for a green card!” “He’s a convicted felon!” “You’re moving to Syria?!”) are a much more pale shade of red. Sure, there could be people marrying someone for that person’s money, but that’s just not as great a topic for friends and family members (and fans) to shake their damn heads about. Actually, Marrying Millions is almost leaning more on the age differences in the couples for those head shakes than how much money they have (or don’t have).
Regardless, if you are a fan of the 90 Day Fiance franchise and/or the Love After Lockup franchise, then I suggest you give Marrying Millions a chance! It airs on Wednesday nights at 10/9c on Lifetime.
90 Day Fiance: The Other Way and The Family Chantel air on TLC on Monday nights at 9/8c and 10/9c respectively.