Ratings drop for Big Brother’s debut

Big Brother 15‘s debut and new twist attracted far fewer viewers than last summer, as only 6.51 million people watched the episode. It earned a 2.2 rating among viewers 18 to 49, compared to a 2.6 last summer, down 15 percent. Its all-time low was in the summer of 2008, a 2.1.

In its timeslot, the show tied Fox’s Masterchef, but was watched by more viewers, and the 9 p.m. hour of the Fox show outrated the CBS series at 8 p.m.

For what it’s worth, CBS’ press release noted that in its timeslot, the show “was first in viewers (6.31m), adults 25-54 (2.5/08, tie with FOX) and adults 18-49 (2.1/07, tie with FOX),” and “the night’s #1 broadcast in viewers.” The show debuted on a Thursday last July, so CBS compared this episode not to the debut, but “to last year’s Wednesday premiere (on July 18, 2012), Big Brother was up +5% in adults 18-49 (from 2.0/07), even in adults 25-54 and added +530,000 viewers (from 5.78m, +9%).”

While these lower ratings could be seen as a referendum on a show that stubbornly refuses to change–it’s 2013 and it’s still in SD; even with the addition of a new twist, the editing is identical to every other season–I see it as potentially bad news, because last summer’s debut featured returnees. Even if there are other reasons for the year-to-year drop, I can see this being used as an argument for always bringing back people, because all-star seasons tend to draw more viewers, since the cast is familiar to viewers.

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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, 36, 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.