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The Insider: Inside Sports: ‘BB’ Fans Are Gold

Aug 24, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!
The Insider will hold her head up higher and stand a little taller the next time a so-called friend pooh-poohs her obsession with “Big Brother,” an obsession not unknown to faithful readers.
It turns out she’s part of CBS’ biggest online experience. Bigger than “CSI,” even, when CBS adds page views, visits, uniques, streams, comments and engagement to the network audience impressions from three hours per week in prime time.
CBS likes her. CBS really likes her.
And The Insider—who long ago passed into a demo no broadcaster will acknowledge, much less pander to—really likes that as part of that larger Web community group, she can pass for younger and contribute to the salability of online advertising, which is the future but still far from the primary pot of gold.
We “BB” addicts, who cannot get enough of the “BB”-related Web sites and chat rooms and offshoots (21 hours a week of live house feeds showing the houseguests in action and inaction on Showtime Too) and still remain faithful to the series on CBS, are proof that complementary offerings need not be cannibalistic at all.
That’s what CBS Interactive President Quincy Smith says. And The Insider is going to take Quincy Smith at his word, because he also says he’s going to get “Oh, Brother,” the thrice-a-week “BB” blog The Insider’s alter ego does with colleague Josef Adalian, linked on CBS.com. (The Web is turning all of us into link whores and The Insider would just as soon be the biggest whore of all. For the record, however, Mr. Smith offered.)
“Give us as many ‘Big Brother’-like shows as possible, because they just fly, they just do,” says Mr. Smith. “You are more inclined to watch it on-air, watch it again online, in your sporadic way, while commenting, and buy the DVD.”
While CBS as a policy does not dole out detailed analytics when talking about its Web world, Mr. Smith does say the most popular “BB” clip of the season features the “BB” houseguests during the 5.4 earthquake that rattled Los Angeles in July: more than 250,000 streams so far.
Attempts to get any data on the “Big Brother After Dark” audience (seen from midnight to 3 a.m. EDT nightly) or the simultaneous SHO.com chat room have proved fruitless.
But data from Nielsen Media Research shows that for its 10th season, through Aug. 19, “BB” has averaged 6.31 million viewers and a 2.3 rating in the almighty 18-to-49 demo.
That includes three outings against the almighty first week of the almighty Beijing Olympics. For the week ending Aug. 17, “BB10” finished second to all non-Olympic competition in total viewers and 18-49 and even grew week-to-week on two of its three nights. It even bettered its season averages in total viewers and 18-49 Aug. 12 with 6.36 million and a 2.8 rating, respectively. For the season, “BB10” is down 2% in total viewers and 4% in 18-49 compared with last summer’s “BB8.”
The less said about “BB9,” which was strike filler last winter, the better, since the houseguests as a whole set a “BB” record for bad tattoos, below-average intelligence and overall ick factor.
The Insider has it on the highest authority that Leslie Moonves, the CBS CEO and husband of “BB” host Julie Chen, was more involved in the final casting of ”BB10.”
The result has been a house full of crayonishly colorful characters (including a 75-year-old Geezer with a capital G) who need little nudging by producers to generate some of the most unpredictable twists in years, with just an occasional chance for texters and Web-sters to vote on what should be done to whom in the house just for a bit of extra fun.
These include jaw-dropping, house-wide screaming matches and a showmance that started with some under-covers action but, most improbably, appears to have developed into something rather sweet. That relationship may have legs much longer than the competition that broke them apart last week.
It’s like the Olympics without the sports, just all up-close-and-personal moments without any interruptions by commentators who tell us what we just saw.
And The Insider is proud to say she’s watched more “BB10” than Olympics.

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