The Duggar family has made their way back to TLC after the network claimed they would be cutting all ties with the Duggar clan following the Josh Duggar molestation and Ashley Madison scandals. A new, three-part series called Jill & Jessa: Counting On appears to be a test by the network to see if viewers will respond positively to the Duggars despite their history of scandals. Many speculated that if the family was able to achieve high viewership for the specials, they may be given another opportunity for a spin-off series on the network. The Duggars didn't disappoint with the first episode pulling in 2.2 million viewers. However, is viewership alone enough to save the Duggar family from fully being axed from the TLC network?
TV By The Numbers reports that the Jill & Jessa: Counting On performed very well in its Sunday night cable spot. The Duggars were watched by 2.2 million viewers for the first episode and viewership is expected to be even higher for Episode 2, in which Anna Duggar is expected to speak out about the betrayal she experienced at the hands of her husband Josh Duggar. The viewership for the Duggars' new mini-series ranked eighth for all Sunday cable viewing, making it a top program for Sunday viewing.
Despite the high rankings for a Sunday program, the Duggars are still not guaranteed a spin-off series on the network. In fact, the situation isn't looking good for the family. As the Inquisitr previously pointed out, the network seemed to have to pull to find enough ad spots for the program, as many sponsors pulled from any future Duggar programs following the Josh Duggar scandal. In fact, TLC is accused of running ads on the new Duggar show without the permission of the advertisers. Two of the companies allegedly infringed upon included Ford Motor Company and Crayola. Both companies' ads allegedly ran on some of the local stations during Jill & Jessa: Counting On that they claim were not authorized, noting that they had made direct requests with the network to keep their ads off of any future Duggar programming.
The Facebook group "Contacting Sponsors: #NoMoreDuggars" has campaigned heavily to TLC sponsors by asking them not to support any programming that features the Duggars. As a result of their work, a large list of sponsors refusing to advertise on future Duggar programming was compiled. When the first episode of Jill & Jessa: Counting On aired, the group reportedly designated two show "watchers" to compile a list of sponsors running ads on the show to hold the companies accountable. The rest of the group boycotted the showing. The group noted that the show was heavily promoted by TLC but did not have a lot of sponsorship outside of local businesses. In fact, the show relied heavily on ads for other TLC shows.
With a lack of sponsors it seems unlikely that the Duggar family will get another shot on the network. TLC may simply be using the mini-series to allow the Duggars to have their last say before moving on from the family. The large viewership numbers, however, will likely be used by the Duggar family to secure future television deals with other networks or self-promotions. Though the family has been rife with conflict, many Duggar fans continue to stand by the side of their favorite Arkansas mega family.
Are you surprised by the high Jill & Jessa: Counting On ratings? Do you think TLC will give the Duggar family another shot at a show if the mini-series continues to do well? Or is TLC simply allowing the Duggars their last stand on the network to say anything they feel needs to be resolved before moving on?
[Image via Instagram/TLC]