Back in July 2015, The Bachelor franchise producers were scrambling.
Their then-lead, Kaitlyn Bristowe, had just committed the ultimate sin: she posted a photo of her in bed with her fiancé Shawn Booth on Snapchat. The only problem? No one was supposed to know she was engaged to him, her season was still airing. Yep, their Bachelorette had just accidentally spoiled her own season. "We felt really, really bad," Kaitlyn told E! News of Snapchat-gate at the time.
But cut to almost two years later, and current Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay proudly announced on a conference call set up by ABC, that she ends her season engaged. However, we still don't know whose proposal she accepts.
The call happened days before the current season even premiered, meaning Rachel's spoiler-y reveal was sanctioned. Hell, it was probably even encouraged.
So what caused this radical change in the franchise's attitude toward spoilers?
It's simple: The Bachelor is impervious to spoilers, especially when they are in control of when and how they are released. And the ratings don't lie: The reality hit was the only network show to actually grow year over year in 2016, ticking up three percent from 2015.
By allowing Rachel to reveal she ends her journey engaged, ABC is doing two things: 1. They are getting ahead of spoilers on their own terms, giving away some nuggets of information, but not the most vital. Rachel ending her season accepting a proposal is not all that shocking, especially when you take into account that all 12 Bachelorettes before her have said yes to a suitor on one knee. 2. They are actually making people engage more while watching, trying to look for clues as to who it could be. Viewers are more invested because they know the payoff will be worth it.
The franchise didn't always have a care-free approach to the show's happenings getting out, something that has become nearly impossible when every date that takes place outside of the mansion is Snapchatted and tweeted about by fans. Now, the show even invites people to come watch and be a part of the group dates, and had eight of Rachel's men appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show as part of a date challenge, which happened after four of Rachel's men were revealed to Bachelor Nation (and the Bachelorette herself) during the After the Final Rose special following the finale of Nick Viall's season of The Bachelor.
Speaking of Nick, it's worth noting his season marked a huge change for the franchise in terms of how they reveal their new lead.
Nick was announced as the next Bachelor just ahead of the Bachelor in Paradise season three finale, before his break-up with Jen Saviano aired. Sure, they were only one of four couples remaining, but producers didn't seem too concerned about spoiling the outcome, choosing to get a head start on casting for Nick's season of The Bachelor instead.
"We wanted everyone to know it's Nick so we can find people that really want to be with Nick," host Chris Harrison said at the time.
With Nick, there was even more investment from the fanbase, dubbed Bachelor Nation, as his turn as the Bachelor was his fourth outing in the franchise. Some people hated him. Some people loved him. Both factions wanted to watch him, curious to see the outcome of his season, good or bad, after already seeing him go 0-for-3.
But the producers took it even further when it came time to announce their next Bachelorette, revealing it would be Rachel on Jimmy Kimmel Live while she was still a contestant on Nick's season (she made it to the final four). It was a move Robert Mills, the senior vice president of alternative programming at ABC, called "a calculated risk" on Channel 33's Bachelor Party podcast.
"But it paid off," he said. "Ratings went up actually, not necessarily due to Rachel, but people didn't stop watching."
Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.
Harrison also addressed the early announcement when he co-hosted Live! with Kelly Ripa explaining, "We named her the Bachelorette early because weird TV calendar stuff is that The Bachelor runs right up to when we start taping The Bachelorette. Like, we're talking days. We're done. And she goes further in the show and we're like, ‘Well, we need to let everybody know that Rachel's our Bachelorette. We would like to cast the show for her.'"
So why don't spoilers matter when it comes to The Bachelor? Because it's a communal experience, with fans often watching the show at viewing parties, simultaneously connecting with other fans in person and over social media. The Bachelor landed at No. 10 on Twitter's list of the most-tweeted about TV shows on 2016.
Whether viewers are invested in the journey or hate-watching, they're still watching, spoilers and all.
The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.