'Big Brother' Moves to Fall on CBS All Access

Big Brother_Julie Chen - Publicity - H 2016
Sonja Flemming/CBS

Big Brother_Julie Chen - Publicity - H 2016

Updated Aug. 3: CBS has now confirmed that Big Brother will indeed run on CBS All Access in addition to remaining a summer staple on the linear network. Julie Chen will remain on board as host. “Big Brother is an incredible success on the CBS Television Network and has always been ahead of its time when it comes to fan engagement,” said Marc DeBevoise, president and COO at CBS Interactive. “Already, the Big Brother Live Feeds are some of the most popular content on CBS All Access and with this new digital edition we will explore ways to reimagine this format for multiplatform audiences.” 

Previous, Aug. 2: CBS has not one but two big twists in store for the next season of Big Brother.

The upcoming cycle of the long-running reality series will move to the fall and air exclusively on CBS All Access, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Season 19 will run 10 weeks, slightly shorter than a normal season. The new season will come not long after the season 18 finale, which is slated for Sept. 21. It will be an expansion of the franchise and will not replace the annual summer season of Big Brother, which will continue to air on the flagship CBS network, according to a knowledgeable source. 

The news comes a week ahead of CBS' presentation at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour.

The move is a first for the Julie Chen-hosted competition series. CBS has aired Big Brother during the summer for 17 of its 18 seasons. The only exception, season nine, premiered in February 2008 during the writers' strike. The season finale suffered the show's lowest ratings and the series has been reserved for the network's summer schedule ever since. Having the next season, for which casting is already underway, premiere so soon after the September finale of Big Brother 18 risks the possibility of viewer fatigue for even the show's most loyal fans.

The decision to move Big Brother to its streaming counterpart could also potentially hurt the network. Despite its age, the series continues to play an important role on the network's schedule, airing three times a week during the summer and consistently ranking No. 1 with adults 18-49.

The switch comes as CBS All Access prepares to launch two highly anticipated original scripted series in 2017: Bryan Fuller's Star Trek: Discovery and The Good Wife spinoff headlined by Christine Baranski. In June, CBS tapped drama head Julie McNamara to head All Access.

CBS All Access' foray into unscripted is also ambitious given its streaming competitors' lack of unscripted originals. Hulu has one docu comedy, RocketJump: The Show, and Amazon has two with The New Yorker Presents and All or Nothing: A Season With the Arizona Cardinals. Netflix has the largest unscripted slate with Chef's Table, Making a Murderer, Chelsea Does, Cooked and Last Chance U.

However, none of these are competition series in the same vein as Big Brother, which puts a group of individuals in a house together to fight it out for a $500,000 prize.

This isn't the first time CBS has used Big Brother's continued success to elevate other properties. In the show's early years, CBS' website was home to an aftershow, House Calls: The Big Brother Talk Show. Later, in 2007, Big Brother: After Dark premiered on Showtime Too before moving to Pop in 2013. CBS All Access is already home to the Big Brother "Live Feeds," which allow viewers to check in on the houseguests between new episodes, in addition to letting subscribers watch old seasons of the series.

The news of Big Brother 19's move to fall was first reported by Reality Blurred.