Blink and you missed it – after four weeks, the fourth season of “Extreme Couponing” that started off relatively strong has come to a lackluster end. The final episodes attracted some of the lowest ratings of the entire series, which raises the question – could the just-ended season be the last?
The season premiere of the TLC series last month earned decent ratings (read: “‘Extreme Couponing’ Ratings Show We’re Not Tired of it Yet”), attracting just over a million viewers. Not bad for a once-buzzworthy show that’s not quite the novelty it once was. But it was all downhill from there.
The month’s worth of original episodes, run back-to-back on Tuesday nights, drew less of an audience as time went on. The slow decline ended this past Tuesday, with the season finale featuring “Zadia & Briana” bottoming out as the lowest-rated non-“All Stars” original episode of the entire series. (The “All-Stars” incarnation of the series is in a class of its own – more game show than reality show, like a “Supermarket Sweep” with coupons, fans just weren’t that interested.) Zadia and Briana brought in about 700,000 viewers, just slightly more than the three lowest-rated All-Stars episodes, and only about one-fourth the audience that watched the series premiere, “J’aime & Tiffany”, back in April 2011.
Even more troublesome, while the 10pm “Amanda & Jess” episode did slightly better than 10:30pm’s “Zadia & Briana”, it still lost about 40% of the audience that watched its lead-in, “Little People Big World: Wedding Farm.” In other words, about two out of every five people who watched that show, changed the channel instead of sticking around to watch Extreme Couponing.
A TLC spokesperson, show producer Sharp Entertainment and its parent company CORE Media did not immediately respond to requests for comment, or to say whether the show has been renewed or is planning a fifth season. A reality show with no regularly recurring stars costs relatively little to produce, and it costs TLC nothing to rerun it endlessly, or make the entire library available online. But with the regular-edition rerun package at a nice even 40 episodes now, the network will have to consider the value of ordering up any new shows, when diminished buzz is likely to result in continually declining viewership.
That could come as welcome news to couponers who have criticized the show for bending the rules and even looking the other way as outright coupon fraud was committed (read: “‘Extreme Couponing’ Returns – For Better or Worse”). One grocery chain last year even issued a public apology for allowing the show to shoot an episode in one of its stores. “Things aren’t as they always appear,” Lowes Foods said, in accusing the show of staging scenes. Calling its participation in the show a “mistake”, Lowes announced that “we have declined and have no intention of participating in future tapings.” TLC counters that the show is meant to be entertaining, and doesn’t present itself as a how-to documentary. “The show is more about the people who coupon, than to learn how to coupon,” a TLC spokesman told the Baltimore Sun.
Regardless, with the economy improving, coupon use on the decline and fickle TV audiences looking for the next new thing, it could be that Extreme Couponing has simply run its course. For old time’s sake, review the following list, exclusive to Coupons in the News, featuring the Nielsen rating and total audience for each episode of the series. Whether the list gets any longer, depends on whether TLC can stomach the numbers getting any smaller.
|Episode #||Featuring||Premiere date||Viewers||Rating (adults 18-49)|
|100 (Pilot)||Amanda, Joanie, Joyce, Nathan||12/29/2010||2.1 m||1.3|
|101||J’aime & Tiffany||4/6/2011||2.602 m||1.3|
|102||Rebecca & Jessica||4/6/2011||2.602 m||1.3|
|103||Tai and Tarin & Nathan||4/13/2011||1.999 m||0.9|
|104||Missy & Amy||4/20/2011||2.265 m||1.0|
|105||Desirae & Stephanie||4/27/2011||1.736 m||0.9|
|106||Chris & Antoinette||5/4/2011||1.874 m||0.9|
|107||Amber & Tammilee||5/11/2011||1.411 m||0.6|
|108||Chrystie & Treasure||5/18/2011||1.411 m||0.6|
|109||Amber & Amanda||5/25/2011||1.484 m||0.7|
|110||Kelly & Rebecca||6/1/2011||1.706 m||0.8|
|111||Joni & Angelique||6/8/2011||1.563 m||0.8|
|112||Scott & Jen||6/15/2011||2.149 m||1.0|
|201||Judy & Faatima||9/12/2011||1.164 m||0.5|
|202||April & Carla||9/28/2011||1.217 m||0.6|
|203||Erin & Shavon||9/28/2011||1.090 m||0.5|
|204||Michelle & Kelly||10/5/2011||0.855 m||0.4|
|205||Michelle & Tyler||10/5/2011||0.942 m||0.5|
|206||Callie & Kelly||10/12/2011||0.963 m||0.4|
|207||Perry & Melissa||10/19/2011||1.206 m||0.6|
|208||Katherine & Joel||10/26/2011||1.381 m||0.7|
|209||Heather & Bree||11/2/2011||1.253 m||0.6|
|210||Missy & Nicole||11/9/2011||1.084 m||0.5|
|211||KT & Erin||11/16/2011||0.965 m||0.5|
|212||Chris & Joni||11/23/2011||0.776 m||0.3|
|AS01||All-Stars: Carla vs. Faatima||12/27/2011||0.979 m||0.4|
|AS02||All-Stars: Chris vs. Michelle||12/27/2011||0.972 m||0.4|
|AS03||All-Stars: Jen vs. Joni||1/3/2012||0.742 m||0.3|
|AS04||All-Stars: Antoinette vs. Judy||1/3/2012||0.618 m||0.3|
|AS05||All-Stars: Jessica vs. Perry||1/10/2012||0.561 m||0.2|
|AS06||All-Stars: Callie vs. Melissa||1/17/2012||0.601 m||0.3|
|AS07||All-Stars: Finale||1/24/2012||0.872 m||0.4|
|301||Erin & Dominique||5/28/2012||1.217 m||0.5|
|302||Cole & Angelique||5/28/2012||0.963 m||0.4|
|303||Jeff & Kelly||6/4/2012||1.077 m||0.4|
|304||Joyce & Aprille||6/4/2012||0.980 m||0.4|
|305||Adrienne & Sarah||6/11/2012||1.125 m||0.6|
|306||Lisa & April||6/11/2012||1.008 m||0.5|
|307||Jane & Judy||6/18/2012||0.984 m||0.4|
|308||Krista & Amanda||6/25/2012||0.990 m||0.4|
|401||Rudy & Gia||11/13/2012||1.028 m||0.5|
|402||Julie & Faatima||11/13/2012||0.982 m||0.5|
|403||April & Chasity||11/20/2012||0.731 m||0.3|
|404||Pam & Broderick||11/20/2012||0.827 m||0.4|
|405||Susan & Cole||11/27/2012||0.876 m||0.4|
|406||Maryann & Haley||11/27/2012||0.832 m||0.4|
|407||Amanda & Jess||12/4/2012||0.777 m||0.3|
|408||Zadia & Briana||12/4/2012||0.706 m||0.3|