Both series dominated the Bravo ratings in 2020, indicating a shift in viewers’ preferences on the network. The past decade has focused on the Housewives franchise, including the flagship series The Real Housewives of Orange County. But, The Real Housewives of Atlanta has long reigned supreme on the network typically generating 2 million live viewers for a single episode.
But RHOBH was the most-watched Housewives series in 2020 thanks to months of rumors dogging Denise Richards about her alleged hookup with Brandi Glanville. And while RHOBH ratings conquered Housewives, Below Deck Med blew all Bravo shows in 2020 out of the water.
‘RHOBH’ hopes viewer engagement continues into 2021
Ratings remained buoyant for RHOBH ranging from the mid 1.3 million range to scraping close to 1.7 million during the reunion, according to rating shares from Bravo Ratings on Twitter. “S10E17 – 1.696 million viewers (0.55 18-49 demo) *season high in total viewers*,” the rating tracker account reported in September.
Some viewers were disappointed with the ratings. Many believe that the loss of Lisa Vanderpump hit the series hard. “Sad numbers for LVP stans,” one person replied to a Bravo Ratings report of 1.564 million viewers in July.
Plus, the three-part reunion dove in ratings with part two only coming in at 1.468 million viewers within the demo. The cast is optimistic about the upcoming season. Lisa Rinna shared an article that featured the season as “most-watched” for the Housewives franchise. “I MEAN WE ARE FABULOUS,” she captioned the screenshot.
‘RHOBH’ could continue to dominate the ‘Housewives’ franchise
“I’m willing to bet 2021 is even bigger,” Erika Jayne added. Jayne is likely correct with her prediction. She is currently enduring a messy divorce flecked with criminal actions. RHOBH insider and podcast host Zack Peter dished about what viewers can expect next season.
“What I hear is, we are going to get a full storyline with Erika’s divorce,” he said on the Hot Takes and Deep Dives podcast. “And it isn’t a sham, it isn’t an embezzlement scam. It’s not going well, and she’s really having a hard time and struggling. Which I think is great for her.”
“Because so many people complain that she doesn’t have a storyline, we don’t see a human side of her,” he continued. “She’s just a cold b*tch that does her scene and her glam. And this is where we’re gonna get to see a more real Erika Girardi.”
But ‘Below Deck Med’ has taken ‘RHOA’s crown
While RHOBH experienced impressive ratings, Below Deck Med Season 5 took the lead as the most-watched show overall on the network. The season smashed record after record, hitting nearly 1.9 million during overnight viewing at one point. “Season five of BelowDeckMed finished as the highest-rated season in Below Deck franchise history among total viewers, garnering nearly 2.6M viewers an episode,” Bravo PR reported in late October.
Every episode left viewers breathless. An obstinate stew suddenly quits. But then a beloved chef is fired. The big shock of the season came when chief stew Hannah Ferrier was fired after her unregistered valium and a vape pen was reported to Captain Sandy Yawn.
Why the shift away from Housewives to a series that almost mirrors a modern-day Downton Abbey? “It’s Downton Abbey on the water,” Captain Lee Rosbach from Below Deck told The Guardian. “A lot of people thought this would be the death of the yachting industry, but that hasn’t happened. I’ve had very little backlash.”
Colin Macy-O’Toole, who is a Below Deck Med fan-favorite surmised that viewers may have tired of the same dinner parties and arguments seen on Housewives. “I’m not discrediting the [Housewives] franchise,” Macy- O’Toole told Showbiz Cheat Sheet in July. “But I think [the reason] why we have higher ratings than [the Housewives] is because every season is a fresh start.”
“You always have to have a few returns but then having them interact with new people who they never met before,” he continued. “Plus the whole work environment is different. It’s not like they’re just hanging out like, ‘Hey let’s go to this dinner party.’ Who wants to watch that?”