Big Brother 2 goes pay.
July 4, 2001 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Big Brother 2 goes pay. They're tripping on themselves before they even get out of the starting gate. At the Official Site they've recently reported they will charge for live Internet feed access after the first few days. The obsessed and addicted are none too pleased. What do you think? Shrewd business move or greedy reaction by clueless network executives?
posted by ZachsMind (20 comments total)
For those who don't know, last year the Big Brother Internet feeds were 24/7, live, and free. This year? TANSTAAFL.

The direct link on the official site is a popup window, and not a permanent link, so I figured it best just quote from it. "Free Streaming Video Trial - Don't miss a thing inside the Big Brother house. For a limited time (from the evening of Thursday July 5 until the evening of Sunday July 8), you can access our 24/7 live video streams free of charge. After that, you can purchase a subscription for the entire series so you can watch the competitions and drama."

No word yet on how much it's gonna cost, but the chatrooms and message boards throughout the BB fanatic Internet community (for lack of a better word) are already expecting the worst. Many are threatening to band together and boycott the show. So the second season of Big Brother is already alienating what little of a fanbase they accumulated from their first season.

Personally I'd pay, because I'm an idiot. If it was a one-time fee of twenty dollars or less, I will feel that reasonable and won't have a problem with it. Any more than that, and I'll probably join the other addicted obsessed fanatics for the series and boycott, but I don't think that's gonna do anything one way or the other. I'd also insist, if I'm paying, that 1) I get a discount or some kind of compensation for every time the feed freezes up or dies on the server side whenever I want it to work, and 2) No fair cutting away when they go into the Diary Room. Last year whenever things got interesting they'd cut away and show the damned chickens, but this year there's no chicken coop.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:43 AM on July 4, 2001

Well, Zach -- I was with you on that last BB thread but I've got to disagree on this one. I wouldn't pay a cent for the quality of feed they offered last year, so if the show is another bore I guess I'll be tuning out entirely.

(Well, maybe if they didn't cut away from the real action, it might be worth a fee.... oh God, I need help...)
posted by Dirjy at 11:30 AM on July 4, 2001

Shrewd business move or greedy reaction...?

as if there were a difference...
posted by quonsar at 11:34 AM on July 4, 2001

Point taken, Quonsar. I poorly worded that. There is no real difference there.

Apparently Dirjy you're in the majority. My question is, are the Internet fans enough of a percentage of fans to make CBS scared? My initial reaction is yes. The majority of people who braved the show briefly last year probably won't tune in at all no matter what. I mean most people found the show lame, and I'll agree. Much of it was lame, but that is part of what I find appealing about it. It seemed more real than any other television I've ever seen. It's why I like it.

It's just the small percentage of people on the Internet who have carried the torch since last summer waiting for BB2 because they actually enjoyed the last one who would be interested in paying at all, and they're mostly taking this as a personal insult. So maybe CBS believes there's a larger number of people out there who they can pull in with their new changes, and they don't care what we diehard fans from last season think. I believe that's rather ...optimistic, of them to assume that. This isn't the first time a production company or television network have treated their own fanbase like dirt. Hopefully they'll be able to pull their fat out of the fire with this one, but I doubt it.

I have just sent CBS an email explaining my personal preferences to how this turns out. I have a number of requirements which I detailed for them. On certain conditions, I'll pay. I copypasted all that at my blog.

I strongly recommend everybody, regardless of how they feel (whether you agree with me or not and actually especially if you disagree with me) to go to the CBS BB2 website (linked above) and then scroll down to the little "feedback" link at the bottom of the front page. Voice your concerns. If enough people are able to convince them to the error of their ways, we might get them to change their minds.

I ain't holding my breath, but crazier things have happened.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:57 AM on July 4, 2001

You know how some people say that the lottery is a tax on stupidity? Same thing here.
posted by davidmsc at 12:32 PM on July 4, 2001

Wow, those contestants are skewing old this time. I didn't see anyone under 27, and a couple are in their mid-40s.
posted by aaron at 1:01 PM on July 4, 2001

Easy, Aaron, some of us thirty-somethings are approaching the age when we consider the word "old" to be obscene. Now, where's my Metamucil & Geritol?
posted by davidmsc at 1:29 PM on July 4, 2001

I can only hope that the Salon summaries aren't pay-to-read, too.
posted by darukaru at 2:20 PM on July 4, 2001

As someone who lives in a pay-to-view Webcam House (, this is especially interesting.

For us, We simply can't afford the bandwidth to offer free streams to people. I wish we could. It would be a much more successful art project and community if it were open to all (or cheaper, at least). But charging $$ is a survival need at this point.
posted by halcyon at 2:41 PM on July 4, 2001

There are Big Brother fans?!?!?

There are people who would pay to be Big Brother fans?!?!??

My god, P.T.Barnum was right.
posted by swell at 2:45 PM on July 4, 2001

Two words: who cares?
posted by Bag Man at 3:18 PM on July 4, 2001

BB2 will be as big a flop as BB1 was unless they go the route that Australian Big Brother has gone. That is, carefully edited for maximum viewing pleasure (ala The Real World -- nothing but fights, cussing, and sex) and a special "ADULTS ONLY" version showing boobies and penises.

Seriously, you can't get better than boobies and penises.

Oh, also, they've got to fill the house with young sexy people. Let Survivor have the old farts.
posted by benbrown at 3:33 PM on July 4, 2001

You might be interested to know that in the UK, the live Internet video feed for the second series of Big Brother has remained completely free. What's more, on E4 through the magic of interactive television, people are able to watch four live feeds of the house 24 hours of the day, even when other programs are on the channel. Mind you, it doesn't really matter since about 21 hours of the day the channel just shows the main live feed anyway.
posted by adrianhon at 3:49 PM on July 4, 2001

Oh, I didn't mean for my comment about age to be taken negatively; I'm actually quite glad to see that having barely legal T&A wasn't the main criteron for getting accepted. I'm just amazed that this is so.
posted by aaron at 4:35 PM on July 4, 2001

Halcyon raises an important point. Bandwidth don't grow on trees. Some may equate this to an idiot tax. You're free to have that opinion. Also CBS ain't hurting for cash and could cover the fee. Heck they could afford David Letterman. They ain't poor. I'm well aware that Halcyon's situation is not identical to CBS's. Still, CBS has bills to pay too. If CBS can't get sponsors to advertise, they gotta cover their costs some way, and I'd rather pay the idiot tax and not be bothered by banner ads than get it free and have to download other crap along with the live feeds.

There's already talk of "hackers" finding a way around the live feeds in order to keep it free for the masses, but that just puts it all underground. I prefer getting it clean and clear - and having a receipt to wave in people's faces when I have to complain cuz the service is bad. Last year there were problems with the live feeds, and I had no place to complain. You get what you pay for. If you don't pay for anything, you have to be thankful for what scraps are thrown your way. My money gives me room to bitch. I wouldn't mind that.

Oh, and Autumn's gonna win this. Just you wait. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 7:51 PM on July 4, 2001

What's wrong with people who own the rights to content being able to do what they want with them?
posted by kerplunk at 3:08 AM on July 5, 2001

"Halcyon raises an important point. Bandwidth don't grow on trees."

Yes but the sort of thing that generally Halcyon is offering HAS to be subsidised at this stage in time (regretfully) I'm sure people don't have a problem with that. It's more like an art project which is deriving funding from no other source.

That Aussie BB has made a heap of money from advertising, sponsorship, tours, and by skimming a % of the take from "pay call" phone numbers (people aren't so thrilled about that one either, but I digress)

But to start charging for the live feeds, that seems to be an unwise business decision in this case. From what I can divine, the American show wasn't such a big hit last year, with good reason.

There is no way I would pay for that. The format of show itself is massively flawed (compared to Survivor) It is actually engineered to become less and less interesting.

If people are silly enough to pay for this, them there's really nothing to say, it's none of my business what people do with their money. I just think it's a daft business idea for a show that already has limited interest value.

"What's wrong with people who own the rights to content being able to do what they want with them?"

Nothing. One might not agree with their idea, or feel pleased about it, but ultimately, it is entirely up to them.

Might I ask you in return, "Whats wrong with people commenting on whether or not they think that this scheme is workable or not?" That seems to be all that people here are doing.
posted by lucien at 3:54 AM on July 5, 2001

I was never a real watcher of BB last year. It was only near the end of the season when I read somewhere (probably Salon) that there were 24/7 live feeds on the interenet, and that people who were watching those feeds were discovering a much different show than the one on TV. Like that the cast members all threatened to walk out over disgust at the manipulations of the producers, who went to some appalling, insulting lengths to manufacture arugments. Maybe CBS has decided they actually don't want internet viewers leaking stuff like that, so they added the fee to cut down on the number of people using them.
posted by dnash at 7:15 AM on July 5, 2001

I didn't like the show as presented on tv, but I watched the live feeds constantly. I had them running in my background, because it was more fascinating to see them actually going about life, than the pre-packaged theme snippets they put on the show. I can see why they'd want to charge for the feeds- they're vastly more interesting than the finished product, but they're going to lose tv viewers, because I just don't care enough to watch the show on its own merits. I imagine I'm not alone in that.
posted by headspace at 7:33 AM on July 5, 2001


Not that there's anything wrong with that!
posted by lucien at 9:10 PM on July 5, 2001

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