On Monday, CBS announced six shows that are returning in January and February, including the mid-February start date for Survivor: Winners at War. Missing from that announcement was any mention of a Celebrity Big Brother season 3.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the US version of Celebrity Big Brother has been cancelled forever, especially in this era of old shows being resurrected, and this particular reality show already has a set built that just sits empty for most of the year.
During its previous two seasons, Celebrity Big Brother—a shortened, classier, far better version of the summer reality competition—aired in many different timeslots across about three weeks.
CBS’s winter 2020 schedule has placed other shows into most of those timeslots.
CBS gave one of CBB’s timeslots—and also Survivor’s eventual timeslot—to Undercover Boss, which will air Wednesdays at 8.
Last year’s finale of Celebrity Big Brother 2 took place Feb. 13, the same Wednesday that Survivor season 40 will premiere in 2020.
Other timeslots have mostly been filled with scripted shows on the midwinter schedule:
- Tuesdays at 8: NCIS, starting Jan. 7
- Wednesdays at 8: Undercover Boss, starting Jan. 8
- Thursdays at 8: Young Sheldon and The Unicorn, starting Feb. 6
- Fridays at 8: MacGyver, starting Feb. 8
- Sundays at 8: God Friended Me, starting Feb. 16
And Mondays at 8 appear to be filled with ongoing episodes of The Neighborhood and Bob Hearts Abishola, though neither are mentioned in the midwinter schedule press release.
And those are just the 8 p.m. timeslots; the 9 and 10 p.m. timeslots mostly all have shows scheduled there, too. In other words, there’s just no room for a Celebrity Big Brother 3.
Julie Chen’s tweet, and last year’s ratings
With the early February start dates for some of those shows, could there be room for a season to start in January?
That seems very, very unlikely. Last year’s season started Jan. 21, and the previous season started Feb. 7. The first Celebrity Big Brother was basically counter-programming for the Olympics.
The 2019 season’s ratings were down from 2018. Of course, ratings are down everywhere, so that may mean nothing. But they also dropped during the season: from 5.36 million viewers for the premiere to 3.87 by the finale.
The previous season also lost viewers: opening with 7.27 million viewers, and while episodes dropped as low as 3.54 million viewers, it rebounded to 5.21 million for the finale.
Fans have been reading a lot into a cryptic tweet posted by Julie Chen, which is an image of the Diary Room couch with a side-eye emoji and a wink emjoi. But none of her cryptic tweets before the summer season had anything to do with its cast or twists, so I don’t think there’s any value in spending any more time thinking about that.
There’s always the chance that CBS could return to a season that airs only on CBS All Access, its pay streaming service. The first and only season to do that, Big Brother: Over the Top, aired in 2016.
But CBS decided not to do that again in 2017 or 2018. It seems like Celebrity Big Brother may have been a similar experiment that is over—for now, at least.