Teen Mom OG ratings continue to fall, is this the beginning of the end?

Teen Mom OG new cast with Bristol Palin and Cheyenne Floyd

Teen Mom OG has never really been able to recover in the ratings after taking a three-year hiatus from 2012 to 2015, which was due mainly to Amber Portwood going to prison in May of 2012. The show has seen a slow decline in viewership since returning in March of 2015, and the October 1 episode debuting new cast members Bristol Palin and Cheyenne Floyd was the show’s first season premiere that didn’t bring in at least a million viewers. The second episode a week later dipped even further. Could this be the beginning of the end of one of reality TV’s longest running series? We took the time to break down the numbers, and the prognosis is not good.

First, let’s rewind a few years to a time when Teen Mom (not OG yet) was a ratings juggernaut. Season 3 premiered on July 5 to 3.654 million viewers — an astounding number for a cable reality series. The Season 4 Premiere on June 12 of 2012 was down a bit, but still pulled in a whopping 3.249 million viewers.

After Season 4, the show took the almost three-year break before returning for a fifth season on March 23, 2015. That Premiere saw 1.952 million viewers tune in for the return of Maci, Farrah, Catelynn, and Amber. As is often the case with shows, the season numbers dropped off a bit from the Premiere, and Season 5 ended with 1.485 million viewers tuning in for the finale on February 22, 2016.

Here is a timeline, including the most recent Teen Mom OG Season 8 premiere and second episode:

3.654 million on July 5, 2011 (Season 3 premiere)
3.249 million on June 12, 2012 (Season 4 premiere)


1.952 million on March 23, 2015 (Season 5 premiere)
1.485 million on February 22, 2016 (Season 5 finale)

1.192 million on August 22, 2016 (Season 6 premiere)
1.381 million on June 26, 2017 (Season 6 finale)

1.319 million on November 27, 2017 (Season 7 premiere)
1.044 million on March 26, 2018 (Season 7 finale)

957,000 on October 1, 2018 (Season 8 premiere)
851,000 on October 8, 2018 (Season 8, episode 2)

Here is a more detailed look at some of the recent episodes, including those before and after Farrah Abraham was fired from our post about “The Farrah Factor”:

Teen Mom OG ratings 2017 - 2018

851,000 viewers for episode 2?! I didn’t go through every episode in the show’s history, but I am guessing that is the lowest number ever. I should point out that Monday was a holiday, albeit Columbus Day, and usually ratings do go down a bit on holidays. I think the ratings for next week’s episode will tell us a lot. If it stays below 900,000 then I think the show is in serious trouble — especially if they hope to keep the original stars with their large salaries.

But, even if the show manages to get back above 900,000 viewers next week, I believe it will need to get above the one million mark during the season to gain the network’s confidence.

It’s important to note that the world of television ratings has been turned on its head thanks to all of the new technologies, including DVRs and numerous streaming options online and via network apps. That makes it difficult to measure shows against themselves, or similar shows from a few years ago, as ratings merely reflect those tuning in the night the episode aired and doesn’t account for streaming and other viewing options.

So how is Teen Mom OG faring against similar competition right now? TLC is currently in the second season of their teen pregnancy reality series Unexpected, so it should make for a great comparison. After two episodes of Teen Mom OG Season 8, the average ratings are 904,000. The last three episodes of Unexpected (which doesn’t include any inflated Premiere numbers) averaged 1.116 million viewers. And remember, the cast members of Unexpected are not getting paid much AT ALL, especially compared to the Teen Mom OG cast.

It isn’t the Teen Mom franchise in general that fans appear to be getting tired of, however, because Teen Mom 2 is still putting up strong numbers. Teen Mom 2 Season 7b premiered on May 7, 2018 to 1.363 million viewers and wrapped up with a finale on July 30 that was watched by 1.416 million!

As a fan, I think a lot of Teen Mom OG‘s ratings issues stem from the drama levels coming down dramatically. Fans complain all the time about Jenelle, but there is absolutely no doubt that her kind of outside-voice immature drama is a big reason why fans tune in week to week. That sort of drama has dried up almost completely on Teen Mom OG — which is a huge compliment as far as the maturity of the cast goes, but not such a positive thing when it comes to ratings.

Let me break it down mom-by-mom…

Farrah Abraham is gone, and so is her alternate reality that turned off a lot of people, but certainly entertained a lot of people as well.

Amber Portwood, who has been an unending fountain of unfortunate decisions and the resulting conflicts since her first appearance on 16 and Pregnant, has seemingly found someone that can help keep her calm and relatively happy without emptying her bank account. She’s got a new baby and is pretty much living in Malibu with a seemingly healthy and uncontentious coparenting relationship with Gary. Once again, that is GREAT for her! But, not so great as far as what I want to watch on Monday night. (I can just imagine Amber reading this and getting mad for some reason. Then, I imagine Andrew telling her: “There’s no reason to be mad, these are all good things!”)

Ryan Edwards is no longer on the show, which means Maci McKinney’s story line is now talking about Things That Matter clothes and Ryan — without Ryan. I love all the McKinneys and Bentley and Jen and Larry, but once again, where’s the drama?

Catelynn Baltierra continues to struggle with depression and anxiety, and Tyler Baltierra continues to struggle with Catelynn’s struggles with anxiety and depression — and they are expecting another child. I think Catelynn has been extremely brave for sharing her story and being so open about her struggles in front of millions hundreds of thousands of people, but at this point it is getting difficult for me to watch because I don’t feel like I’m gaining any new insights. Granted, if there is some sort of huge happy ending with these two this season, then it will certainly be worth it — but if learning about depression and anxiety over the past few years (thanks in part to Catelynn and Tyler) has taught me anything, it’s that having those kinds of expectations is unrealistic.

I’m the furthest thing in the world from being a Sarah Palin fan, but I really like Bristol Palin’s addition to the cast. Her relationship with Dakota and his issues dealing with PTSD have been hard, but compelling to watch, and I really feel like I’m seeing things I’ve never seen on TV before. These two are being honest and sharing a very personal side of themselves as they go through a terrible time in their lives — and that is the recipe for great reality television. Plus, Bristol is a rare case because her addition to the Teen Mom OG cast makes perfect sense in that her story is so similar. She was a teen mom thrust into the media spotlight, and I kind of feel like I have been watching her story since the very beginning.

I like Cheyenne Floyd — she seems like a very intelligent, funny, and attractive young woman and a great mom. But, I’m pretty much to the point where I fast forward through her parts on the show. She and Cory are prototypical young MTV reality stars who are always Instagram-ready and looking to entertain as they think reality stars should entertain. Throw in the fact that Cheyenne gave birth in her mid-twenties and I just totally don’t get it. Once again, I really admire Cheyenne as a person, and I think she has her sh*t together — I just have no interest watching her on Teen Mom OG. (Just like with Amber, this paragraph is 100% a compliment to Cheyenne, so I hope her fans read it that way.)

My analysis could be roughly summarized by saying that the moms of Teen Mom OG seem to have outgrown the show to a certain degree. They are all well aware of what kind of stuff brings in the ratings, but I think they are all kind of over being willing to do a lot of those things any more. (Maci McKinney refusing to return to the show unless MTV stopped filming Ryan’s struggles with drug addiction is a perfect example.) MTV seems to be trying to morph Teen Mom OG and Teen Mom 2 into more of a Real Housewives kind of concept, with the drama between cast members and the revolving door on casting, but I just don’t think it’s going to work with Teen Mom OG — especially after they kicked out the show’s uniting super-villainess Farrah.

What are your thoughts? Are you still tuning in for new episodes of Teen Mom OG on Monday nights? Why or why not?

Asa Hawks is a writer and editor for Starcasm. You can contact Asa via Twitter, Facebook, or email at starcasmtips(at)yahoo.com

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