Big Brother 8 ratings have “a sluggish start” but show “a loyal core following”

Ratings for the eighth season of Big Brother, which debuted in early July, have dropped slightly after the show’s debut, which was watched by just under the number who watched the all-star debut last year. Still, the show is often winning its timeslot among advertiser crack, e.g. younger viewers, and has begun to show signs of growth.

The season premiere of Big Brother 8 was watched by 7.4 million viewers, Variety reported. That “won the 8 o’clock hour in adults 18-49 as well as adults 25-54,” but lost in overall viewers to a repeat of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader. That 7.4 million viewers is down slightly from last season (7.54 million), season six (8.7 million), and season five (9.8 million).

Its first Tuesday episode saw fewer viewers tuning in; 6.81 million watched, Variety says, again down from last year. For its second Sunday episode, the show was watched by 6.4 million viewers overall, a million less than its debut a week and a half earlier, but also 10 percent more viewers ages 18 to 49 than watched the previous Sunday, according to Variety. This past Sunday, July 22, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the show was watched by 6.4 million viewers yet again.

All of that seems to prove Variety’s thesis that the show’s audience “has remained pretty steady in recent seasons, suggesting that while it’s not adding many new viewers at this stage of its run, it has a loyal core following.”

Tuesday’s episode earned the show its “best scores to date,” Variety says. A total of 7.02 million people watched, following last Thursday’s bump up to 6.98 million viewers.The paper says that “after a sluggish start, the eighth edition is about on par with last summer’s all-star season.”

As for me, I’m catching up on TV from my three weeks out of the country, but I’ve yet to watch a single episode of Big Brother 8—and it’s kind of liberating. My brain is not yet filled with details of the lives and strategies of the houseguests that seem entirely crucial yet will vaporize come September, leaving me feeling empty and used. Then again, I do miss Julie Chen’s on-air screw-ups and the possibility of another season six. We’ll see how long I can hold out.

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