As controversy surrounding TLC's latest reality show "Breaking Amish" grows, so does the skein's ratings.
"Breaking Amish" bowed on September 9 during TLC's 10 p.m. time slot on Sundays and pulled impressive numbers. 3.1 million total viewers tuned in to watch four young Amish people and one Mennonite venture outside of their secluded communities towards Gotham and the "English" lifestyle. "Breaking Amish's" debut turned out to be one of the strongest premieres on TLC in years.
During "Breaking Amish's" second and third episodes, however, total viewership dipped to around 2.8 million -- still impressive numbers for the cabler, but a decline nevertheless.
Allegations churned in the news and online during this period, though, claiming that the reality show wasn't exactly what was meeting viewers' eyes. Photos and anecdotes surfaced purporting that cast members had left the Amish community well before the production of "Breaking Amish." Some had kids. Some had been married. Some had been divorced.TLC issued a statement, saying that many allegations were either false or would be explained in upcoming episodes. Major news outlets reported on the controversy, offering increased exposure for the program during its third week on the air.
Episode four of "Breaking Amish" bounced back, landing 3 million total viewers and stunning spikes in key demos. Adults 18-49 surged 19% from episode three to four, and in key female demos, viewership spiked 50%.
The exact cause of the "Breaking Amish" ratings boost cannot be precisely determined, but one cannot ignore the fact that numbers boomed after the show became embroiled in controversy. Ratings over the four week period seem to point to an initial interest in the show followed by a tapering off during weeks two and three. As word of the program's questionable cast spread, however, week four numbers shot up.
Should this ratings increase continue, it will certainly hush nay-sayers who anticipated TLC pulling the show in the wake of the damning photos and allegations.
TLC has taken advantage of the ratings increase as well, broadcasting previously aired episodes with extended scenes and allowing the Hot Snakes exec producers to live-tweet during the Sunday night broadcast of "Breaking Amish" on the cabler's Twitter.