It wouldn't surprise me at all if last season, the first without Thomas, had lower ratings. It would be interesting to see if ratings were around normal for the first couple of episodes but then fell off a cliff as people realized he was gone.
I'm surprised at the big gulf in pay if that article is accurate. I realize the original cast members are going to get the most but Austen is only $80k, which is 1/5th of the original cast members?
He supplied a lot of the story last season. They played that dumb fake threesome video over and over and over. They couldn't come up with much else but at least he provided fodder to fill airtime.
Of course until Trop Hop is a big sensation, Austen has no leverage, has to take whatever Bravo offers him, which isn't bad for a couple of months of filming, though of course others are getting paid way more and Bravo is making a ton of money and he's contributing to that.
Sure they want big drama from the cast. So they'll have to force more BS stories on the air.
Thing is, even if the ratings are down, what else does Bravo have? I know a lot of their other shows get much higher ratings but will they develop a new franchise or spinoff one of the others, which they've done to death?
Real Housewives of Poughkeepsee? Cameran might have to go on a RH spinoff, get a facelift and bring some drama, since she wants her own money.