Now in its sixth season, The Bachelor’s ratings are higher than ever – due entirely to a jump in male viewers.
So far, the show's average audience is 916,000 across the major capitals; up 76,000 on last year.
More than 75,000 of these new fans are men; fewer than 1,000 are women. Overall, men now comprise a record 36 per cent of Network Ten’s Bachelor audience, compared to 28 per cent in 2014.
The obvious answer is the bachelor himself: retired rugby professional Nick "Honey Badger" Cummins. The epitome of Aussie blokehood, Cummins communicates entirely in ocker aphorisms and rhyming slang. Expressed as a mathematical formula, he is Alf Stewart multiplied by Barry McKenzie to the power of Russell Coight.
Almost certainly, Cummins’ sporting credentials lured men who’d previously dismissed The Bachelor as a "chick show". But there’s a less apparent reason for his success: Sophie Monk.
Her blonde bombshell status is a tempting explanation but in fact, her wicked sense of humour played a bigger role.
The Bachelor’s first season rated poorly because we took its selling point – a Mills and Boon-style fantasy for the Hallmark Channel crowd – at face value. Its mission to help preening airheads find "true love" felt exceedingly American, akin to Oprah’s belief that life partners can be summoned at will "from the universe".
Then the penny dropped: The Bachelor was actually a prime opportunity to take the piss. To sit around with mates and crack smart-arse jokes. To pick a favourite contestant, sledge their opponents and barrack until you're hoarse.
What could be more Aussie than that?
Ten, of course, must maintain the fiction of pure-hearted romance. But after six years, the jig is up. The Bachelor isn’t a reality show; it’s a spectator sport – as brutal as the rugby Cummins used to play.