Is America Over The Bachelor?

Is it Ben's fault? Or is it a matter of bad timing?

Whatever the reason, ratings for the 16th season of The Bachelor, ABC’s longest-running reality show, are reaching new lows this season. The second episode of the new season had 7.2 million total viewers and a 2.2 rating in the key demographic. Both figures represented small declines from the season premiere, and it turned out to be the lowest-rated new episode of The Bachelor ever – keep in mind that this includes a few seasons where the franchise really appeared to be on its last legs.

There have been extenuating circumstances in these first two weeks. The season premiere occurred on January 2, which was a holiday for many people and featured numerous college football bowl games. And Monday was dominated by the ESPN telecast of the BCS national championship game, which scared off CBS and Fox, both of whom chose to air repeats rather than compete. Still, even a major football game should not ordinarily be enough to disrupt the usual Bachelor audience, and this was borne out by the fact that the show which follows it on ABC, Castle, had higher ratings on Monday than it had for its last original episode, prior to Christmas.

Even a veteran reality show can keep its ratings up if its casting is strong, so it may simply be a case of Ben not being a compelling presence. Or, just maybe, the farcically short “engagements” of both Jake Pavelka and Brad Womack have made The Bachelor look a little silly.