Below Deck faced a lot of hurdles when it was cleared to launch in 2011, especially from yacht brokers who were reluctant to have aspiring reality stars working as crew on their valuable boats. "What differentiates Below Deck from a flotilla of other reality shows," says Amy Odell, "is the degree to which viewers are brought into an environment with its own vernacular and specialized skills, in which the stars have to actually work — and not in the manner of those on, say, Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules, where it doesn’t really matter if a patron gets his margarita on time. That blend of setting and tension has quietly turned the show into a ratings dreadnought (by basic-cable standards). Season six was its most watched, averaging almost 2.6 million viewers per episode; among audiences under 50, it was the No. 5 reality show on all of cable. The show’s first spinoff, Below Deck Mediterranean, has done nearly as well: Its third season averaged 2.4 million viewers in 2018, and its fourth (currently airing) is on track for the largest Below Deck audience ever. A second spinoff, set on a fancy sailboat, was announced earlier this year."