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Big Brother's future uncertain on Channel Seven after 'ratings disaster'

EXCLUSIVE: The reality show might not be returning next year.

An industry insider has claimed the once-popular reality show Big Brother won’t be returning to Channel Seven in 2024 after becoming a ‘ratings disaster’ for the network.

Seven obtained the rights to the series in 2019 and announced its return in 2020, six years after it last aired on Channel Nine.

The reboot attracted an average audience of 830,000 viewers, which pleased the network despite the fact it was less than half of the season three viewership in 2003. However, after four seasons and one celebrity version rebranded Big Brother VIP, the ratings have well and truly plummeted.

Big Brother's Sonia Kruger.
The current season of Big Brother is barely reaching 200,000 viewers per episode. Photo: Channel Seven

“Ratings are at a disastrous average of under 200,000 viewers tuning in overnight for the current series,” an insider tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

“Now [episodes are] being squished together to finish up prematurely next week in a new 8:30pm time slot, which is not what Channel Seven wanted. Seven are sad to see audiences switching off from the once-celebrated format.”

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The source claims that the show has been axed from Seven’s 2024 programming and will be put on hiatus again for some time.

"Seven were clever to mention Big Brother Australia in their Upfronts but failed to mention the show currently being seen was not really a part of their future lineup in 2024,” they added.

Yahoo Lifestyle has contacted Channel Seven for comment.

Big Brother Australia 2023 logo.
Big Brother Australia may not be returning to screens in 2024 after dismal ratings. Photo: Channel Seven

Big Brother's history in Australia

Big Brother took Australia by storm when it first launched in 2001, averaging 1.4 million viewers per night. The show lifted to 1.7 million viewers two years later, making it the highest-rated reality show in Australia at the time.

The 2003 season introduced viewers to eventual two-time winner Reggie Bird, who alongside runner-up Chrissie Swan became two of the most famous women in the country.

During the height of the show’s popularity, contestants like Reggie, Sara-Marie Fedele and even a man nicknamed Hotdogs would be followed by fans wherever they went. Producers would marvel as everyday Australians were mobbed as if they were a part of The Beatles.

Ratings took a massive dive when the show pursued a sexier and more adult format, but was slammed by Prime Minister John Howard in 2006 after a lewd act was seen on a 24-hour livestream. Network Ten tried their best to win back audiences but the show was axed in 2008 with an average of only 860,000 viewers tuning in to see their final season.

Channel Nine then brought the show back in 2012, with their family-friendly approach achieving modest success with an average of just over 1 million viewers a night. Channel Nine aired their final season of Big Brother in 2014, which was the last live version of the social experiment until Seven rebooted a completely different format in 2020.

Big Brother's Gretel Killeen and Reggie Bird.
Reggie Bird became one of the most famous women in Australia after she won season three in 2003. Photo: Channel Ten

Potential path forward

There were whispers Big Brother would move back to Queensland in 2024 in a bid to boost ratings, while Seven’s programming executive Angus Ross had teased interest in seeing how the UK version performed after it returned to a live format this year.

“We couldn’t, due to the schedules that we had to produce this next series, consider that. But I’ll be watching with interest because it’s certainly something we would consider going forward,” Angus told TV Blackbox last year.

While Seven’s version of Big Brother has at least had a live finale every year since it was rebooted, the season currently airing has pre-filmed three possible endings.

The season 15 finale is set to air next week, which may be the last episode of Big Brother Australia for a while.

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