Endemol Shine has hinted at “future opportunities” for a “new chapter” of Big Brother in the UK after Channel 5 confirmed that this season of the reality show will be the last on the Viacom-owned broadcaster.
This comes after it emerged that the MasterChef and Black Mirror owner had applied for a planning application to keep the house, which is based in Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, open for a further three years.
Channel 5 posted a statement ahead of tonight’s launch that this season, which begins at 9pm, will be the last on its air. “It’s time for this game to end. The final series of Big Brother starts tonight at 9pm,” it noted. “The forthcoming series of Big Brother will be the last – of either celebrity or civilian versions – on Channel 5. We’d like to thank Endemol and all of the production team who have worked tirelessly to make the show a success. We’d also like to thank our brilliant presenters – Emma on Big Brother and Rylan from Bit on the Side – for their consummate professionalism, Marcus, the voice of Big Brother and all of the housemates who have created so many memorable moments.”
However, a statement from Endemol Shine has left open the door for a rival broadcaster, or potentially a streaming service, to pick up the rights to the format, which remains a ratings winner in the UK.
It noted that the latest version of Celebrity Big Brother, which featured Cheers star Kirstie Alley, was C5’s highest rating show of the year, grew its audience by 17% year-on-year and tripled the network’s slot average for 16-24 year olds.
“We are incredibly proud of Big Brother which has consistently been the highest rated show for Channel 5 over the past seven years,” it said. “Big Brother continues to be a global phenomenon. The UK is one of 20 countries where the show will air in 2018, including the U.S. where Celebrity Big Brother was recently renewed, four different versions in India and last month’s Celebrity Big Brother in Germany which saw a rise of 85% series on series. Whilst disappointed not to reach an agreement with Channel 5 the decision opens up a new chapter and we are excited about future possibilities for Big Brother in the UK.”
There are a handful of possibilities for Big Brother in the UK; a number of industry execs have suggested that it could work on UKTV, the joint venture broadcaster owned by Discovery and BBC Studios.
A digital version – Big Brother: Over The Top – recently aired in the U.S. via subscription platform CBS All Access, paving the way for the possibility that it could also make its way online in the UK via one of the existing SVOD players in the market, which include Netflix or Amazon, or potentially a catch-up service run by one of the linear broadcasters.
Watch this space. Big Brother, it seems, is.