Arie Who? ABC's 'Bachelor' Lead Poses Marketing Challenge

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Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Arie Luyendyk Jr. Credit: ABC/Lou Rocco

Arie who? This is the question Bachelor Nation is asking this morning after ABC announced Arie Luyendyk Jr., runner-up on season 8 of "The Bachelorette," will be the star of the next season of "The Bachelor."

The buildup to the announcement on Good Morning America on Thursday was perplexing, to say the least. The creator of the franchise, Mike Fleiss, had spent recent days posting (and then deleting some) cryptic tweets with supposed clues to the Bachelor's identity.

Good Morning America tweeted last Thursday that the new Bachelor would be revealed on the next morning's show. But that tweet was deleted and an announcement next came.

Was this all an elaborate ruse or, as reported, did producers have a hard time finding their next male lead?

Regardless, many fans are confused over the choice of the race car driver.

"The Bachelor" has been an anomaly on TV, with ratings remaining relatively consistent even as most shows experience significant ratings erosion. The first season of "The Bachelor," which aired in 2002, averaged 10.7 million viewers and a 4.6 rating in the 18-to-49-year-old demo, while the most recent season was watched by 7.4 million and pulled a 2.3 rating.

A big part of that audience loyalty can be credited to the franchise's strategy of picking recent cast-offs as the next season's Bachelor or Bachelorette. It's a pretty smart cycle: You watch a season of "The Bachelor," become invested in the ladies looking for love, and then follow one on their own individual "journey" (as the show insists on calling its process) ... and repeat.

But going back five years to find your lead seems like a risk that could ultimately alienate viewers who don't remember or weren't watching in 2012.

Luyendyk's season of "The Bachelorette" averaged 7.5 million viewers and 2.5 rating in the 18-to-49 demo when it aired in spring 2012.

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