CBS restricting Big Brother live feeds to the US; will the show really be interactive this year?

CBS today announced all kinds of things about Big Brother‘s broadcast this summer, but there’s not much that’s actually new, except live feeds are moving to CBS-owned properties and Canadians are getting screwed.

Canadians, who watch the CBS version of the show on Global, and others who don’t live in the United States are getting shut out of the new CBS.com live feeds. The live feeds FAQ says they “may be accessed in only the United States including Hawaii, Alaska and the Virgin Islands.”

This is, of course, a blessing in disguise: those people now have their summers back. And those who want to watch will probably find a way. Already, there are instructions to circumvent the restrictions.

The press release notes that full episodes will be on CBS’ iOS app, and the After Dark broadcast will be on TVGN. The live feed features it mentions–”subscriber-only web chat, four different live feeds, multiple camera angles, quad-camera view, and live stream playback – along with new features like live feed highlights, offering bookmarks of key moments in the house; the ability to rewind within live playback; House Guest status updates; and more”–aren’t really new or exciting.

However, in the press release, CBS Interactive SVP Rob Gelick promises they are “bringing the show’s die-hard fans even more opportunities to impact components of the show and interact with this season’s houseguests.” But he also says, “Fans will have the most immersive, 360-degree Big Brother experience ever, across every possible screen, including social media integrations, the Live Feeds on CBS.com, and full episodes on the CBS App.”

Will this just be another wasted opportunity, as that last sentence suggests, if the show stays in the same rut it’s been in for years and just distributes its footage in pretty much the same ways that it always has? Or will the producers do something new and, say, borrow heavily from cancelled ABC series Glass House so viewers can have some actual interactivity with viewers beyond picking which stupid food combination is used as a stupid punishment?

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.