Few reality shows share as much unfiltered content as Big Brother, which gives viewers the opportunity to watch live broadcasts of their participants around the clock and seven days a week, which is an important component of the longevity and success of the show. The “American Big Brother” format has included a live broadcast element since its inception in 2000. The very name of the show is a reference to “Big Brother” — a term from George Orwell’s novel “1984”, describing a society in which the government spies on its every movement of citizens. Big Brother’s live broadcasts serve the same purpose for fans of the game.
Over the many years of Big Brother’s existence, the format of access to live broadcasts has changed several times. Thanks to new technologies and the advent of streaming services, it has become easier than ever to watch how guests communicate live. At the beginning of the season, the quality of the live broadcasts made the service a little more disappointing. As live broadcasts have moved from the SuperPass service to the now-defunct CBS All Access to their current home on Paramount+, they have become more accessible and arguably more important to Big Brother than ever before.
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Live broadcasts of Big Brother are crucial to enjoying the show for most superfanates. They give viewers the opportunity to observe the development of the game in real time and get to know the guests of the house on a deeper level than the edited episodes allow. As with all reality shows, the TV component of Big Brother is heavily edited: the show has to cut content by 80-100 days per season, which usually lasts only about 25 hours. There’s so much content left on the editing room floor that some important events don’t even make it into the main show. Live broadcasts give the most passionate members of the Big Brother fan base the opportunity to get a more holistic view of the game and the players in it.
Unpopular opinion: I don’t need a premature announcement of the cast of #bb24. We all change our minds about them as soon as we watch them live. 🤷🏻♀️
— Sarah ▶️ Nerdtainment #bb24 (@SarahBigBrother) June 30, 2022
Live broadcasts are also interesting for those who are interested in how reality TV works, especially with regard to how editing can shape a story in such a way that it may or may not be an accurate representation of real events. For example, in the history of Big Brother, there were several cases when houseguests who behaved badly on the air were given favorable or heroic edits in television episodes, as well as cases when it was the other way around. Producers and editors shape the narrative, and Big Brother’s live feeders can see how editing builds that narrative, for better or for worse.
Of course, there are drawbacks to live broadcasts. The vast majority of competitions and ceremonies are broadcast in the dark, and behind-the-scenes cameramen are often disconnected from conversations in which guests talk about out-of-bounds or controversial topics. The tapes have also hurt recruiting efforts, especially for seasons of returning players, as the constant monitoring of their day-to-day activities makes guests vulnerable to all kinds of criticism. Although fans rightly criticize some guests for their bad behavior in the house, in some corners of the Big Brother fandom, the toxic culture of the camp also prevails, and live broadcasts can exacerbate this toxicity. In general, however, live broadcasts are an integral component of Big Brother’s success and must-watch for many fans of the show.