Is TLC Making Duggar Family’s ‘Counting On’ Reality Series Appear More Popular Than It Actually Is?

The Duggar family is returning to TV this summer, and some critics of the controversial family are accusing TLC of trying to make their reality series, Counting On, seem more popular than it actually is. Fans of the Duggars are also rejoicing because the network is reportedly removing negative comments about the Duggar family from the Counting On Facebook page.

As the Hollywood Gossip reports, the Duggar family has scored another season of their TLC series, and Jill Duggar is returning home to film with her family. However, the prospect of a “Welcome Back” party probably wasn’t enough to make the number of “likes” on the Counting On Facebook page increase by five times overnight.

Critics of the Duggar family recently noticed that the number of likes on the Counting On Facebook page has exploded. They reportedly went from a few hundred thousand to over 2 million.

“2,000,000 plus likes? Come on TLC, is that really ethical?” Kathy Riek wrote on the Counting On Facebook page.

“No. It is not ethical. They were at approximately 400,000 about a week ago. Then, everyone wakes up one morning to see it change to 2.4 million plus…overnight. Most of those ‘likes’ are from people who ‘liked’ 19 Kids & Counting YEARS AGO. You know, when no one knew what the Duggar’s were hiding,” Judy Holland responded.

The 19 Kids and Counting Facebook page no longer exists, so TLC likely merged it with the page for the Duggar family’s new series. According to Facebook, it’s possible to do this if “you have 2 Facebook Pages for the same thing.” Counting On has evolved into a 19 Kids and Counting reboot with no Josh Duggar and less Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, so it probably wasn’t difficult for TLC to get Facebook’s permission to merge the similar shows’ Facebook pages.

The Wayback Machine digital archive can be used to find evidence that the likes from the 19 Kids Facebook page were transferred over to the Counting On page. The Wayback Machine is an archive of older versions of webpages that allow users to see snapshots of what these pages looked like at different moments in time. According to the last viewable capture of the 19 Kids and Counting page, which was taken on July 18, 2015, it had 2,434,683 Facebook likes. According to the last viewable capture of the Counting On page before its likes suddenly increased, it had just 193,425 likes. This snapshot was taken on November 8, 2015.

Duggar Family's New Series Not As Popular As '19 Kids' On Facebook

The Counting On Facebook page now has 2,458,921 Facebook likes, which is very close to the amount of likes that the 19 Kids and Counting page once had.

'Counting On' Facebook Page Gets Merged With '19 Kids And Counting' Facebook Page

It’s unclear whether TLC’s intent in merging the pages was to make Counting On appear more popular than it actually is. However, the network could have simply deleted the 19 Kids and Counting page instead of combining it with the Counting On page.

The number of Facebook likes on the Counting On page may make the show seem just as popular as the Duggar family’s original reality series once was, but ratings tell a different story. According to the New York Daily News, episodes of 19 Kids and Counting regularly attracted over 3 million viewers. However, according to the Duggar Family Blog, every episode of the first season of Counting On attracted fewer than 2 million viewers. Only 1.34 million fans tuned into the season finale.

Even though episodes of Counting On only averaged around 1.4 million viewers, Nancy Daniels, TLC’s General Manager, has insisted that there are “millions and millions of young loyal viewers who support the [Duggar] girls.” During an interview with FOX411, Daniels also addressed reports about numerous companies asking for their ads not to be aired during any of the Duggar family’s TV series. As the Inquisitr previously reported, Facebook groups like Cancel the Duggars and No More Duggars have convinced a lengthy list of businesses to pull their advertisements from Counting On. Daniels downplayed their success by saying that they are a small but outspoken group of critics.

However, TLC may be more worried about critics of the Duggar family than it’s letting on. According to fans who regularly post on the Counting On Facebook page, TLC has started deleting negative comments about the Duggars.

“YEA TLC!!!!!!! The fans are so relieved you are finally removing the hatred from this page. We have put up with it for long enough,” Dee Anne Taylor recently wrote in the visitor’s section of the page.

It remains to be seen if making these changes to the Counting On Facebook page will help the Duggar family and TLC return to the ratings heyday of 19 Kids and Counting.

[Image via TLC/Facebook]