Big Brother USA goes Over The Top for new online edition

Show premieres tonight - with viewers getting power to decide the winner
2 comments - Posted on September 28 2016 at 06:27pm

Big Brother USA Over The Top logo

CBS is launching the first ever online-only season of Big Brother USA tonight with major changes to the show’s format.

‘Big Brother: Over The Top’ (BBOTT) begins tonight at 10.00pm ET/7.00pm PT on CBS All Access, the broadcaster’s Netflix-rivalling streaming service.

Bosses are thought to have chosen the name for its double meaning (‘over the top’ is a TV industry term for content delivered via the internet). The show represents a number of significant milestones:

  • It is the second non-summer season of BBUSA, and the first in fall;
  • It is the second online-only edition of Big Brother, after the Chinese version, and the first to air entirely live (China’s only series so far was pre-recorded);
  • It is the first ever original show to launch on CBS All Access (previously announced Star Trek and The Good Wife spin-offs won’t premiere until 2017);
  • Big Brother is understood to be the first reality competition format to air on an American streaming platform
Big Brother Over The Top houseguests
BBOTT houseguests (L-R top-bottom): Shelby, Monte, Neeley, Scott, Morgan, Justin, Whitney, Cornbread, Alex, Danielle, Kryssie, Shane

BBOTT will run for 65 days and is being made by the same producers behind the broadcast version – but they have made a number of changes to the format for its online debut, including a significant increase in viewer involvement.

Most notably, the winner – who will take home a $250,000 prize, half that of the broadcast version – will be decided by public vote for the first time since BBUSA’s inaugural season in 2000, eliminating the need for a jury.

Viewers will also be “involved” with nominations, evictions and other twists, although it has yet to be specified how.

In addition, fans have voted for a veteran houseguest to join the cast of twelve new contestants: BB17’s Jason Roy, or BB18’s Jozea Flores.

Another tweak will see the nomination ceremonies replaced with two weekly ‘safety ceremonies’, which will enable houseguests to win immunity before the Head of Household names the two nominees.

Big Brother 17 USA - Jason Roy
BB17’s Jason Roy, one of the ex-houseguests competing to return

The way the show is presented has also been changed, with the 24hr live feeds being promoted as the main way to watch.

There will be no scheduled blackouts on the feeds (irregular downtime may still occur for legal reasons), meaning for the first time, viewers will see competitions play out in real time. There will also be weekly live Diary Room sessions.

Only one traditional episode will be released each week, on Wednesdays, with live evictions taking place immediately afterwards.

Live feed recaps will be available on all other weekdays, while host Julie Chen will interview the houseguests and most recent evictee on Thursdays.

Although they are intrinsically linked, the broadcast and online versions of BBUSA are separate. The new season is considered the first season of BBOTT, as opposed to the nineteenth regular season.

Big Brother USA presenter Julie Chen
Big Brother USA presenter Julie Chen

Recurring features of the broadcast version, such as the Zingbot and Otev competitions, will not be featured online; similarly, changes made for the online version are unlikely to be transferred to broadcast.

Producer Rich Meehan told the Hollywood Reporter: “There’s a lot of things that are staples in the broadcast show that are only going to be in the broadcast shows. The digital [edition] is going to be a new style, types of challenges.

“If the digital version is a success then we have two different versions of Big Brother with different types of gameplay and challenges and then make it co-exist together.”

Meehan added that BBOTT may be renewed for further seasons “if it does well and people like it”.

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2 comments on this article

  1. Brekkie says:
    Sun 09 Oct Reply !

    This series is superb so far and proof that a back to basics series made largely for the fans can work – and putting the live feeds at the centre of it means it really is Big Brother.

    The best thing about it is the viewer interaction though – viewers aren’t just voting out the villians or protecting the obvious favourites, they’re being really tactical about it and considering how their voting will impact the game moving forward.

  2. Zarah says:
    Tue 29 Nov Reply !

    Can i audition online…im an filipina..26yrs old…😊😊

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