‘Southern Charm’ debut draws fewer than 1 million viewers

The (Charleston) Post and CourierMarch 10, 2014 

“Southern Charm” certainly created a buzz around the Lowcountry, where Bravo’s new reality show was filmed. But did anyone else tune in last Monday?

The answer, according to the initial Nielsen ratings is: A little bit. “Southern Charm” drew 983,000 viewers and a 0.5 Nielsen rating among ages 18-49, which advertisers view as the key demographic.

The second episode airs at 10 p.m. on Bravo.

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That’s slightly better than “Single Ladies 3” on VH1, but about half as many viewers as tuned into “Cryptid: The Swamp Beast on the History Channel,” noted Doug Ferguson, a College of Charleston communications professor.

Ferguson said if he were a Bravo executive, “I wouldn’t be handing out cigars or popping champagne. It’s kind of a so-so debut, I think.”

Wrestling – “WWE Entertainment” – dominated the cable ratings Monday with a 1.6 rating and more than 4 million viewers. The new show “Bates Motel” on A&E and CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” re-runs also ranked near the top.

A review of the show on the HitFix website was generally positive: “I wanted to hate ‘Southern Charm,’ but I couldn’t,” wrote Liane Bonin Starr. “How could I hate a show in which more than one person uses words like ‘ostentatious,’ ‘raison d’etre’ and quotes ‘Macbeth’?” (Actually, Thomas Ravenel quoted “Hamlet.” He apologized for the error on his Twitter feed the next morning.)

In today’s fragmented television landscape, capturing half of one percent of cable viewers is far from a death knell, and Ferguson said it remains to be seen what sort of buzz the show generates and how its ratings fare in coming weeks.

That buzz could be shaped by Ravenel, the former South Carolina state treasurer, who said this week he is considering trying to revive his political career despite serving time for a drug offense.

Ferguson, who said he saw some clips of the show but didn’t watch the whole thing, said “Southern Charm” seemed to be well produced.

“Some of it was entertaining, but a lot of it wasn’t, so I don’t think I’d watch it,” he added. “I know more much more about Thomas Ravenel’s apartment than I ever hoped to learn.”

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