When Big Brother first launched in the Netherlands in 1999, it offered a live feed for viewers to watch events unfold live on the internet. That was probably a gimmick to generate interest and buzz, but it worked.
Of course, the show’s title came from George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, with its often-repeated tagline “Big Brother is always watching,” referring to the faceless government overlord which spied on everyone at all times—AKA live feeds.
Multiple countries kicked off their own Big Brother franchises in 2000, and I think most if not all also had live feeds—I know UK and USA did.
Reality television was young back then, but as more and more shows came along, with more and more varied setups and premises, live feeds became the thing that set Big Brother apart from the rest of the ever-growing reality pack.
A lot of countries dropped the feeds along the way, including UK and Australia. Both of those franchises were subsequently cancelled, though UK is starting up again this year, and Australia came back in 2020.
I doubt UK will bring back feeds, and the Australia reboot now tapes months in advance. CBS’s Big Brother USA has always had feeds.
Canada, which premieres with its eleventh season tonight on Global, also had live feeds (which were free, with ads). Until now.
Big Brother Canada announced on February 23 they would not be offering live feeds this season.
They said they’re taking “the utmost duty of care and prioritize the mental health and well-being of the houseguests, and their family members, as well as our own production team” as to why they’re “evolving” the show to only include the three weekly television episodes plus curated internet clips from inside the house, without feeds.
That sounds like a noble reason, as we’ve all seen the social media feeding frenzies that can happen to reality show cast members.
But I think there’s more to it than that.
When Big Brother Canada cut its live feeds
BB Canada feeds have always streamed less than the promoted 24/7.
Along with blocking competitions and ceremonies—which BB USA also blocks—Canada has also blocked anything controversial or potentially so, sometimes leading to feeds blackouts lasting days on end.
They’re notoriously generous with booze deliveries for the hamsters (which is what I call the houseguests, since watching them on feeds is like watching hamsters in a cage), especially compared to BB USA, but Canada usually blocked the feeds after the alcohol arrived until most houseguests are in bed.
And Canada has never done live evictions, even though you’d never know that from seeing the eviction shows on TV.
They always tape eviction episodes several hours before they air. I know from a very inside source that’s to prevent anything ugly or unsavory from going out unexpectedly on live TV.
Remember, Big Brother Canada launched its second season a few months after BB USA’s 15th season, one of its most volatile and arguably its most controversial, and one that included some extremely nasty exchanges during live eviction shows.
I think the main reason Canada decided to cut feeds is so they can control the narrative to push the storylines they want to push, and to avoid anything that might upset delicate viewers or sponsors.
With a much more limited budget than American television, Big Brother Canada relies on advertising so much that sponsor products are often incorporated into competitions and are even displayed as part of the house décor.
For the upcoming season, they proudly announced a new record of nine sponsors, including four recurring and four new, plus one additional to be “revealed in-show at a later date.” My guess is that one might be featured in a room in the house? They often have a travel-themed room from sponsor Expedia, who has also provided a trip for the season winner in the past.
So why is it a problem if they cut feeds? Other shows don’t have feeds and viewers are fine with watching the edited shows as presented. Those edits may or may not be accurate: there’s no way to know.
But when there are feeds, feedsters know if they’re not accurate. And the editing of BB Canada’s broadcast TV show—as well as BB USA’s—have often not been accurate.
When Canada ejected Jamar Lee on Day 17 of its 8th season for using a “finger guns” gesture towards Kyle Rozendal, feedsters raised a huge outcry because Rozendal, who claimed his safety felt threatened, had been bad-mouthing and baiting Lee for days prior to that, and the show hadn’t included any of that in the TV edits. It should be noted Lee is Black, and Rozendal is white.
Rozendal was ultimately ejected two days later, but if it weren’t for the feeds and accompanying social media conversations and anger, the outcome might have been very different. (Granted, there was no real outcome that season as it ended a week later when Ontario shut down all non-essential businesses due to COVID, and everyone was sent home.)
That’s just one example. Twitter and other social media platforms will often attack the show, the producers, the cast members, and yes, their families, if the edits aren’t accurate, or if someone’s being portrayed as being more (or less) honest, wholesome, bigoted, you name it, than the feeds have indicated.
And we feedsters are often addicted to watching. Even if nothing’s happening on feeds for hours at a time, anything might happen at any moment, so we keep watching or we keep up with those who do.
Strong ties, solid friendships, even marriages have formed within the BB feed-watching community. When Canada announced they’d no longer have feeds, a very lot of people in our community said they won’t bother watching this season, either to boycott in protest of the feeds decision or simply due to lack of interest from not seeing everything unfold on feeds.
If they stick to not watching or not remains to be seen, but it’s a sure bet most who do watch won’t be as invested as much as usual.
BB doesn’t have the wilderness, dating, or creativity components that most reality shows now do. It has competitions, yes, but at its heart, it’s about social interactions—either natural or engineered—with boredom and paranoia caused by the isolation within the house often fueling the game outcome.
That boredom often made the live feeds tedious and dull, but the paranoia often made them compelling, as did the drama from personality clashes and even ordinary roommate conflicts.
We’ll have very little to none of that this season, since the three weekly shows will be dominated by competitions, Diary Room retells of those competitions, fluff, showmance segments, and sponsored content.
Feedsters often watch the air shows and wonder why TV-only viewers think this person was nominated or that one evicted, when the backstories leading up to those events didn’t make the edits. Now we’ll all be wondering.
Big Brother Canada will post “Digital Dailies” clips online throughout each week, which may or may not have much substance, or spoilers as far as gameplay.
Normally, feedsters know who wins the weekly Head of Household and veto competitions days before they air, and most weeks we know who will be evicted before the votes are officially cast.
This time we’ll likely all be in the dark because along with intentional storyline omissions, Big Brother is notorious for including intentional misdirection in its edits, to build suspense or whatever for viewers.
But the clincher and the part that really hurts about Canada cutting feeds is that we feedsters actually saved the show. Following its fifth season, it was put on hiatus. Again, my trusted and very-inside source told me at the time that it was indeed cancelled, but could get another chance if viewers rallied enough.
So I kicked off a #SaveBBCANParty on Twitter, and many others joined in with social media campaigns, blog posts, and petitions, and sure enough, the show was renewed and has been airing every spring since.
Will BB Canada survive this latest—and tragic for many—turn of events, or will this eleventh season be its last? Time will tell.
I’ll probably keep up with the episodes, at least to start, but with less interest than when I know I’m seeing The Real Story on feeds.
Episodes will air Tuesdays, Wednesday, and Thursdays, and will be posted on bigbrothercanada.ca later on those nights or the next day. The “Digital Dailies” clips will also be posted on the show’s official site, although they’ll on be accessible to those in Canada, as usual.
Host Arisa Cox said in an interview that she understands the concerns. “I’m not sitting here saying ‘what?’ — I totally understand. Big Brother is a unique show, and there are so many levels that it is operating on. The live feed world is one of them.”
Aside from being a stellar host, Arisa is well-known in the BB feeds community for interacting with us about events on the feeds, since she too is an avid feedster.
Will the “Digital Dailies” be enough to replace what feedsters crave? Or will the lack of live feeds kill off Big Brother Canada, or at least interest in it?
Correction: This story initially identified Big Brother Canada’s first season as debuting after BB15; it was BBCAN’s second season.
Tuesday 14th of March 2023
I HAVE NO NEED TO SUPPORT BBCAN OR ANY EPPISODES ON TV WITHOUT LIVE FEEDS. ALL OTHERS SHOULD FOLLOW UNLESS THEY BRING IN LIVE FEEDS ASAP:
Monday 13th of March 2023
There’s one argument that no one can disagree with and is the favorite go-to used to manipulate people into believing or going along with something they don’t necessarily want to. It’s for the safety of….
The whole point of this show was to watch a group of people unfiltered 24/7. By anyone who cared to watch, not just a bunch of producers who can create or push a storyline of their choosing.
I’ve watched just about every episode of BBCan but I’m going to my PVR as soon as I finish typing this and deleting the program from my recording schedule.
Saturday 11th of March 2023
I'm definitely not watching curated Dailies, the Canadian feeds were already notorious for being down a lot as it were - which was the price of admission - free, compared to CBS All Access \ Paramount+ Subscriptions.
Twitter has a massive following and there's constant feedster community that trends it from the casual watchers. I highly doubt the show would survive without the die hards, as they're the key component to BBCan being on air today as pointed out in this article.
I'll watch some episodes and see how engaged I can be, if it's easy to walk at the beginning of the season, it'd be even easier at the end, so I'll do so without becoming invested at all
Thursday 9th of March 2023
Well I watched live feeds and tv episodes. My excitement was seeing what comes after or on the episodes. Now with no live feeds. So so disappointed. Don't think I will be that invested in watching the tv episodes. Lost me for sure. Bye BB Canada.
Wednesday 8th of March 2023
What’s even worse than the producers lying about why they cancelled the feeds is Arisa turning on fans. Fans who brought the series back and got her job back.
She is calling those who won’t watch without live feeds are basically sucks “taking their ball and going home”.
It is disgusting.
They are cutting the feeds so they can tell any story they want and not be held accountable. The producers not only don’t understand what Big Brother should be but have killed the ratings by introducing their personal agendas into the show.
It will be fun to watch this series cancel itself and everyone who associated with it to go back to obscurity. They will deserve it.