Britain bids bye bye to “Big Brother”


The UK’s Channel 4 announced that it will not renew its rights to Endemol’s “Big Brother” after the 11th season in 2010. Meanwhile, the US version is still going strong for CBS, which is about to wrap up its 11th season.

Channel 4 said the decision not to renew Big Brother had been dictated more by creative considerations than commercial ones. “Big Brother is still profitable for Channel 4 despite its reduced popularity and there could have been the option to renew it on more favourable terms. That’s what a purely commercial broadcaster would have done, but Channel 4 has a public remit to champion new forms of creativity. That remit to push the boundaries has been an essential part of the weird chemistry behind Big Brother’s success, but it’s now what is telling us that the programme has reached a natural end point on Channel 4 and it’s time to move on,” said Kevin Lygo, Director of Television and Content in a statement on the network website.

“We’re very grateful to everyone at Endemol who has worked so hard to keep the show fresh and engaging for so long and to the viewers who have remained loyal to the programme and who will be disappointed by our decision. The final series will be an opportunity to give Big Brother an appropriate send-off and celebrate one of the most extraordinary programmes not just in the history of Channel 4 but of TV in general,” said Julian Bellamy, Head of Channel 4.

And while Big Brother will leave Channel 4 after 11 seasons, the folks at Endemol appear to be leaving the door open to returning to UK television with another network.

“On behalf of the whole Big Brother team who work so hard I would like to say a big thank you to all the show’s fans and housemates for helping us ensure it remains the biggest show on Channel 4 even after all these years. Big thanks also to Channel 4 for all their support in what continues to be a great partnership. We’ll be back next year and it’s going to be a blast… and after that, well, Big Brother will get back to you, you can count on it,” said Philip Edgar Jones, Creative Director of Big Brother in the UK.

CBS, meanwhile, is celebrating the success of Season 11. The US version started at the same time as in the UK, but CBS got in two seasons in 2008 due to the writers’ strike. The series is averaging 6.85 million viewers this summer, up 5% over last year, with 18-34 viewership up 6%. Online delivery is breaking records, with 60.2 million page views and 9.5 million video streams.

The finale of Season 11 has been expanded to two hours, airing 9-11 pm on Tuesday, September 15th. 

RBR/TVBR observation: When it comes to reality television, tastes vary considerably from country to country. And while “Big Brother” actually debuted in the Netherlands, the longest run to date – and still going – is the 11 seasons on CBS, with Spain and the UK one behind.

And if “American Idol” is such a huge hit for Fox, can you imagine the success of the original “Pop Idol” in the UK? Well, it ran a whole two seasons and hasn’t aired since 2003.