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'Big Brother' Focuses on Racism, Homophobia -- and It Pays Off LA Times

CBS's "Big Brother" brought its recent outbreak of racism and homophobia out of the relative obscurity of the live Internet feed and into the glaring spotlight of the prime-time broadcast Sunday night -- and got a ratings bump out of it, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"After a week of controversy, the Sunday episode of CBS's long-running reality series aired homophobic and racist remarks from two contestants, Aaryn Gries and GinaMarie Zimmerman. As a result, ratings zoomed 11% in the key adults ages 18 to 49 demographic, compared with the season premiere a week earlier, according to Nielsen," the story reports. "A total of 6.2 million viewers tuned in, enabling CBS to walk away with the 8 p.m. hour, early numbers showed."

As we reported separately, it was a low-rated night overall for the broadcast networks, with CBS and Fox tying for No. 1 in the 18-49 demo for prime time overall with 1.2 averages, based on Nielsen overnights. But "Big Brother" was the highest-rated show on broadcast prime.

"The comments from Gries and Zimmerman had aired on the show's online live stream, but it had been unclear whether CBS would actually air the material on broadcast. Last week, the network issued a statement distancing itself from their remarks; the pair also lost their regular jobs back home as a result," the Times reports. "Gries told an Asian American contestant to 'go make some rice.' Zimmerman, who had worked as a beauty-pageant coordinator, used the N-word in criticizing welfare."

However, even with the controversy, the report notes that "Big Brother" is off to a less-than-stellar start on the season. "Ratings for the first four episodes represent the show's worst opening average since 2008," the piece notes.