The reality television show, Big Brother, which is screened on Channel 4 in the UK is to be axed in 2010 after its 11th annual showing.
The broadcaster, which has screened each series of Big Brother on UK television, announced at the launch of it’s Autumn 2009 programming today that it shall not be renewing the contract with producer Endemol when the current three year deal – worth around £180 million – has run its course next summer.
At its peak, Big Brother achieved audiences of in excess of 8 million viewers in the 2002 series, the series which launched the careers of Jade Goody and Kate Lawler.
However, Big Brother has failed to attract such an audience this year. Big Brother 10, and the current crop of housemates, has seen average audiences in the region of 2 million viewers per show which is 33% lower than last summer’s show.
Revenue must also be an issue as Channel 4 have struggled financially in the past 18 months. When Big Brother was commanding larger audiences, the show made a profit of in excess of £50 million.
Much of this profit has been taken out of Channel 4’s hands by the more expensive three year deal with producers Endemol, signed with a high price tag following something of a bidding war with rivals ITV in 2006.
Big Brother was axed in Australia last year after audience hunger for the show dropped dramatically on the nation’s popular Channel 10. However, the Big Brother franchise in the USA has received record viewing figures of late in the country, as demand for reality television is burgeoning.
The UK show, in common with that in Australia, has tended to make each series more extreme than the last, with housemates selected for entertainment value, and the tasks they are faced with inside the Big Brother house becoming increasingly difficult, in an attempt to keep the Big Brother notion fresh. It may well be that, in doing so, those making Big Brother have placed a shelf life on the show.
Channel 4’s decision to axe Big Brother, a series which has seen rising costs inversely proportional to viewing figures, would seem to echo this view: audiences are bored of Big Brother.
It is, though, widely anticipated that this decision will not spell the end for Big Brother on UK television as another network is likely to pick up the show from 2010 onwards from its makers, Endemol.
Perhaps future UK audiences will watch Big Brother on ITV, Sky or Channel 5.