Between the comments section on this site and the majority of "tweeters" I read every day, this season of Big Brother is a complete disaster. The house guests are moronic at best; vile at worst. The competitions are retreads of previous season. The "twists" produce nothing but jeers.
Yet CBS put out two press releases over the past few days touting the fact that last night's episode and Thursday's double eviction not only won their time slots but were the most-watched episodes since season nine. How can this be possible?
I have a couple of theories. While summer programming is always generally a wasteland, this year found the networks basically throwing in the towel. It's really not too tough to beat shows like Minute to Win It, Wipeout, or America's Funniest Home Videos (who knew that was still on?). The highly-touted cable shows of this summer (True Blood, Mad Men, Jersey Shore, etc.) are also all broadcast later in the evening. There's just no competition in the early evening.
In my opinion, online followers also need to realize they're not typical viewers. The vast majority of viewers never watch the live feeds. They don't read the Big Brother blogs or news sites. Hell, they never even visit the network's online Big Brother section. They may throw out the occasional tweet, but they don't follow dozens of hardcore fans for live feed information.
The only knowledge these people have of the BB compound is what they see on their television three times a week, and the production team has worked overtime to create a relatively well-paced season. It helps that this group of mopes have completely cooperated with the needs of this crew. All of them have consistently delivered exactly what the diary room desires - Britney's cattiness, Enzo's fake Italian bravado, Lane's down home charm, Brendon's dedication to the woman of his dreams, etc.
Yes, some of it has been smoke and mirrors. Rachel initially received an edit that even a nun would dream of getting, which made the post-HOH incident with Kristin (and her Pandora's Box return) a shocking heel turn that the WWE hasn't been able to create since the days of Stone Cold Steve Austin. On the other hand, Matt was much more laid back and likable than the "diabolical genius" mantra they played up on the show. This kind of material has helped producers refrain from the usual filler segments of the house guests primping, cleaning (well, they don't do that anyway), exercising, and individual quirks.
Keeping the ratings up will be a challenge these last few weeks, though. Football is back next week, and the networks will begin to slowly roll out their fall schedule this month. Plus, the diminished number of contestants make it a bigger challenge to come up with material outside of competitions. Viewer numbers are bound to decline until the big finale on September 15.
So what do you think? Why are the ratings up? Are network viewers getting a skewed version of what's actually happening in the house?