After a rather lengthy hiatus, TLC’s popular polygamy reality series Sister Wives returned for an 18th season on August 20.
Sister Wives Season 17 saw Kody Brown’s second wife, Christine Brown, leave the family. The new season continues to document the Brown family’s disintegration as Janelle Brown and Meri Brown will reportedly be following in Christine’s footsteps by leaving Kody.
As Oppenheimer movie goers have demonstrated, people love a lengthy story with a lot of drama leading up to a huge implosion! That was reflected in the viewership for the return of the Browns!
The Sister Wives Season 18 Premiere brought in 1.741 million live plus same day viewers. That is 258,000 more viewers than the Season 17 Premiere, and 261,000 more viewers than Sunday night’s ratings juggernaut lead-in, 90 Day Fiance: Before The 90 Days!
The huge opening inspired a TLC press release titled: “TLC’s Sister Wives Was Cable’s Highest-Rated Unscripted Season Premiere Since 2020 with A25-54.” If you’re unfamiliar with ratings terminology, “A25-54” means adult viewers aged 25 to 52.
More numbers from the network’s press release:
TLC’s Sister Wives, which premiered on Sunday, August 20th, reached a decade-highest season return in ratings with a 2.5 L3 rating among W25-54, a 1.6 L3 among A25-54 and reached nearly 4M P2+ viewers. Sister Wives was also the #1 cable program of the week among W25-54.
I will help decipher some of the figures in the quote. “L3” means “live plus 3.” This is the total views of the show within 72 hours of when it first aired. The number includes those watching reruns and those watching the episode via DVR.
I don’t believe L3 includes streaming numbers, so the actual Sister Wives ratings are likely even higher.
Sister Wives ratings projection
The Sister Wives Season 17 Premiere brought in 1.483 million live plus same day viewers on September 11, 2022. The Season Finale aired on December 11 and a whopping 2.132 million viewers tuned in live plus same day! Yellowstone was the only show on cable television that had a higher P18-49 (adults between 18 and 49) rating that night!
The ratings increase from the Sister Wives Season 17 Premiere to the Sister Wives Season 17 Finale was 43.7 percent. If Sister Wives Season 18 exhibits the same growth, and there’s no reason to think that it won’t, that would equate to more than 2.5 million live plus same day viewers for the Season Finale!
I don’t know how much the Brown family is making financially from TLC, but it must be substantial. They are in contention to be the network’s highest rated series and have been around for 18 seasons. Oh, and the Brown family members have actually been doing a lot of the filming themselves since COVID! They definitely deserve to be paid as crew members for that.
The Sister Wives revival
I’ve been a fan of Sister Wives since the very beginning, but I will be the first to admit that there was a stretch of seasons where I found it a bit of a chore to keep up. It was basically just wedding after wedding, plus some bad business ventures.
However, the past three or four seasons have been some of the most compelling reality television I have ever experienced. Kody’s four relationships have all failed in different ways, and we’ve been able to witness the implosion over the course of more than a decade.
Oh, and yes, I am including his relationship with Robyn as a failed one. We’re only one episode into Season 18 and it seems clear Kody and Robyn are not doing well. They may stay married, but it is going to take a lot to return their relationship to a source of joy for Kody and Robyn.
A lot of credit for the exceptional recent seasons goes to producers and the Brown family for doing such a fantastic job of telling the story!
Viewers will never see the whole picture when watching reality TV, but the Browns have at least given the impression that we are seeing an accurate and honest representation of most of what has been happening with their family.
Often, reality shows that feature a failed relationship will present a very glossed over story. This is usually due to the cast members being reluctant to air everything out on screen — which is completely normal.
The Browns have been willing to air out SO MUCH on screen! And the editors have consistently taken that raw footage and put together a story for viewers that is compelling and believable.
I cannot wait to see how this season plays out! Join me (and millions more) for new episodes of Sister Wives airing at 10/9c on TLC!