Could the cancellation of Big Brother Canada impact its other franchises?

Shaw Media And Insight Productions Wrap "Big Brother Canada" National Casting Tour In Toronto
Shaw Media And Insight Productions Wrap "Big Brother Canada" National Casting Tour In Toronto / Sonia Recchia/GettyImages

The end of Big Brother Canada was met with disappointment and concerns about how it might impact other Big Brother franchises.

After 12 seasons, the Canadian version was officially cancelled following another season of poor ratings.

Another US version is set to premiere later this summer, while a 21st season of the UK version will be airing later this year.

Why was Big Brother Canada cancelled?

There was never one singular reason why Big Brother Canada was cancelled, but there were many indications this was coming.

It began at the end of season five when the show was on hiatus before being saved by an online petition and popular podcasters like former Big Brother US winner Evel Dick and ex-Survivor contestant Rob Cesternino. Most contestants from the bigger versions of Big Brother and Survivor praised Canada’s range of diverse contestants and production value. However, ratings continued to drop.

Arisa Cox
2023 Canadian Screen Awards - Lifestyle & Reality Awards Presented By CTV / Jeremychanphotography/GettyImages

The show stayed alive until season 12, seemingly by taking on various sponsors and having an inordinate number of product placements for each segment. They brought back two former contestants in season 12, but that did nothing to boost viewership.

Obviously, poor ratings had something to do with the show’s cancellation and being put on a network likely meant less freedom on what could go to air. When the show did away with live feeds in 2023, I think there was also a little less interest. I don’t have time in my day to go over live feeds, but I think for many super fans, no live feeds made it difficult for them to understand the events and strategic moves. I’m not sure having live feeds would’ve kept the show going, but depriving fans of this, I think, hurt the franchise.

What does this mean for Big Brother US and UK?

Julie Chen
For Pete's Sake Cancer Respite Foundation Hosts First Ever Virtual Experience / Jamie McCarthy/For Pete’s Sake Cancer Respite Foundation/GettyImages

For those concerned that Big Brother US and UK may follow a similar path, I’d say don’t count on it.

The US version has been met with controversy, one for a host like Julie Chen, who’s clearly less animated than Canada’s Arisa Cox or Survivor’s Jeff Probst. Then there’s been plenty of backlash about the show’s contestants. However, even with contestants who have uttered racial slurs and mocked minorities, both visible and non-visible, the US Big Brother still maintains a solid audience base. Part of it could be having more live feed access, increasing the number of contestants, and increasing diversity. There’s also a bigger population, so automatically, more people are likely watching when compared to Canada. Meanwhile, Canadian Big Brother was only accessible in the US through VPNs until Paramount Plus aired old seasons. The other part is that Big Brother US occurs when it isn’t fighting with as many shows and sports for ratings. They’ll be competing with the Olympics this year, but it’d be worse if they aired during the soccer Euros, World Cup or big sporting competitions around playoff time.

AJ Odudu
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As for the UK, the show came back in 2023 after a few years off the air. For the most part, the 20th season was well-received and was the highest-rated civilian series since season 11 of the show. Moving to ITV2 probably allowed it a little more freedom to do some things that other channels wouldn’t allow. ITV2 tends to have more edgy content, which likely gave them more leeway to try risky things. AJ Odudu meanwhile rated highly as the host, with the 36-year-old oozing with personality and displaying a wide array of knowledge.

Big Brother Canada may be best suited for cable television or in another time slot like the UK and US Big Brothers. There’s also no reason to believe Canadians couldn’t play the US version. Having Canadians on Survivor has been great for that show.

The Canadian Big Brother may be over, but the US and UK versions are fine, and there’s no reason to believe they’ll suffer a similar fate.

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