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Splash Premieres to Big Ratings! Five Other Unlikely Reality TV Hits

Splash ABC/Craig Sjodin

Who knew people actually wanted to see stars (a term we are using loosely here) perform high dives? Apparently ABC did.

Splash, ABC's new competition reality series featuring the likes of Louie Anderson, Katherine Webb and Kendra Wilkinson, premiered to very solid ratings last night, with 8.8 million viewers tuning in to watch the action (again, a term we use loosely here), making it ABC's highest-rated reality TV premiere in over two years.

Now only time will tell if these ratings will hold steady and if Splash will join the ranks of strange reality TV concepts that became successful TV shows. It's definitely happened before! Here are five other series that were surprising and unlikely hits for their networks:

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1. Duck Dynasty, A&E: It's a show that follows a family in the business of making gear for duck hunters, such a niche market you'd think the series wouldn't be relatable for most of America. Turns out, people were tuning in for the duck-hunting gear but staying for the shenanigans of the Robertson family. The season three premiere on Feb. 27 hit 8.6 million viewers, setting a ratings record for the network.

 

2. Deadliest Catch, Discovery Channel: Another out-of-nowhere hit, Deadliest Catch managed to reel in millions of viewers every week, meaning that everyone from hip, young women to cranky old men was watching the crew whose income depended on one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Deadliest Catch didn't just have crabs; it had heart. The death of Captain Phil Harris and the impact it had on his son and the crew was captured by the cameras, and it still remains one of the most moving episodes of reality TV ever.

 

3. Extreme Couponing, TLC: You guys, we're watching people shop for groceries and basic necessities. The added flair is that these people dedicate their lives to finding coupons to save hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of dollars at the store. We admit, we love to see the checkout process and watch their total go down and down and down. But do people really need 30 jars of pickles? 

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4. Teen Mom, MTV: Lash out all you want about the horror of glamorizing teen pregnancy, but just think about it: Now we have footage with which to warn future children about the dangers of unsafe sex. Just watching one season of these girls and their baby-daddy drama should be enough for all young girls to go all Extreme Couponing and stock up on condoms. It might not be MTV's proudest contribution to the entertainment industry, but damnit, we are watching all the installments of the 16 and Pregnant spinoff.  

5. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, TLC: Last year, an episode of the series that follows Alana Thompson from Toddlers and Tiaras fame pulled in bigger ratings than coverage of the Republican National Convention. That's right, people cared more about Honey Boo that night than the race for the next president of the United States. Even celebs like Jennifer Lawrence and Miranda Lambert had fallen in love with the Thompson family, and with the huge ratings rolling in, it's safe to say we will see more of Honey Boo Boo and her awesome catchphrases. 

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