Jon minus Kate equals 10.6 million
Episode in which couple announced split was most-watchedJon and Kate should break up more often.
Monday's episode of TLC's "Jon & Kate Plus 8" was the most-watched hour of the show ever with 10.6 million viewers.
It's an enormous number for a basic cable reality series and beat the show's recent record-setting fifth season premiere (which clocked 9.8 million viewers). Monday's outing -- in which the couple revealed they were separating -- was also watched by more viewers than any other program on broadcast that night.
And yet, in the latest twist in an increasingly challenging situation for the network, TLC is following up Monday's mega-rated episode with a hiatus.
"Jon & Kate" halted production, with show's next new episode tentatively planned for Aug. 3. Next week will feature a clip show retrospective on the couple's first 10 years.
"TLC continues to support the Gosselin family and will work closely with them to determine the best way to continue to tell their story as they navigate through this difficult time," TLC said in a statement. "During this time the family will take some time off to regroup and then a modified schedule will be in place to support the family's transition."
The separation leaves TLC with some decisions to make about how to handle its most-watched series. The Gosselins plan to continue participating in the series but, in an unusual move, they will let their children stay in their primary residence while taking turns playing the visiting parent.
Does the reality show stick to the house, focusing on Jon and Kate's lives only as it pertains to their kids? Or will the show follow Gosselins' new lives apart from their families, and even show them dating -- like a middle-aged Pennsylvania-based "The Hills"?
Another question is how viewers will react to the change. Tabloid rumors of an extramarital affair boosted the show's recent premiere, then ratings quickly dropped to settle slightly higher than last year's audience average. Divorce rumors, aided by promos from TLC promising a major revelation in Monday's episode, helped jack this week's viewership into the stratosphere.
The responses suggest high drama and conflict between the parents brings more viewers to the table than trying out new products with their kids. This season producers seemed to struggling to maintain the show's usual family format, but this separation means "Jon & Kate" has to change -- for better or worse, richer or poorer.