A show like The Bachelor doesn’t last for 14 years and 18 seasons (and counting!) without doing something right. Fans always find something to complain about — the lead isn’t hot/interesting enough, the contestants are certifiable, no one is here for “the right reasons” — but the numbers are still good, especially in the 18-49 bracket prized by advertisers.
That said, the franchise is a far cry from its heydey, which was in 2002-2003, with its first four seasons. (They used to air The Bachelor twice a year.)
Which season had the highest ratings? Believe it or not, it was Season 2 with banker Aaron Buerge. The Bachelor Season 2, which aired on Wednesdays, started with 11 million viewers and ended with a massive 25.9 million, with a whopping 11.9 rating/28 share in the 18-49 zone. That’s crazy good. According to SpottedRatings, no other other airing has even come within 20 percent of that November 2002 finale rating.
It was truly a beautiful thing to see Aaron propose to Helene Eksterowicz … not that it lasted. (He dumped her at a Starbucks five weeks after the finale. Ah, l’amour!)
For comparison’s sake, The Bachelor Season 1 with Alex Michel, started with just under 10 million viewers and ended with just over 18 million. Season 3 started with 10.2 and ended with just over 15 million. Season 4 started with 12.5 million and ended with 18.6 million.
The numbers started to slip a bit with Season 5 in 2004, hitting a low in 2008 with poor Matt Grant's Season 12, which started and ended with under 9 million viewers and averaged a 2.71 rating. Things picked up after that, thanks to Jason Mesnick's Season 13 trainwreck drama. And even though Sean Lowe’s most recent Season 17 started low with just under 7 million viewers and a 2.3 rating, it ended with just under 11 million and a finale rating of 3.8. It’s all about how you finish!