Big Brother renewed for 12th season after adding viewers, but why growth this season?

CBS announced this afternoon that it has renewed Big Brother for a 12th season, which will air next summer. Absent from the announcement is mention of executive producers Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan, who recently formed a new company, but I can’t imagine they won’t return.

The press release says that the show has become “one of only a handful of programs to post growth in its 10th season” having grown “+7% in viewers (7.08m from 6.60m), +4% in adults 18-49 (2.5/08 from 2.4/07) and +5% in adults 18-34 (2.0/07 from 1.9/06).”

While this season has had great drama, thanks to Chima’s dramatic exit and its aftermath, and has a great, hatable villain in Natalie, these impressive ratings kind of depress me. It was as if The Amazing Race‘s family edition had earned high ratings even though it was one of the weakest seasons.

This season of Big Brother started with a super-lame twist (remember the cliques?) and a series of comparatively bad challenges. (They’re never great, but these were atypically awful.) And now we’re left with a lackluster, if not loathsome, final three.

Where were these ratings last summer, which was a far more satisfying as a whole? Or in season six, when we saw some of the greatest strategy and drama in the history of the game? And why are people tuning in now, when it’s not as great as it could be? Is there really nothing else on TV?

CBS Orders More “Big Brother” [CBS press release]
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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 37, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.