Could what started off as counter-programming to the Olympics end up as an annual event? That’s what executives at CBS must be asking themselves in the wake of the solid ratings posted by Celebrity Big Brother over the past two weeks. The abbreviated celebrity installment of the summer competition series has been averaging more than 5 million viewers against the ratings juggernaut that is PyeongChang.
This is not the first time CBS has pushed back the Survivor premiere date a few weeks for another reality entry. Last year, the network debuted Hunted in late January, but the bounty hunter competition series shed viewers every single episode. Could the steady Celebrity Big Brother — currently a hit with fans and posting healthy numbers against the Olympics while allowing the network to cut down on repeats of other programs — be a permanent solution, or would its multiple-nights-a-week airing format cause too much scheduling chaos for other CBS programming? We asked host Julie Chen about that and other recent events in the Celebrity Big Brother house.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The just-evicted Metta — who asked everyone to vote him out — had talked about wanting to leave the game almost as soon as it began. Do you think his head was ever truly in it?
JULIE CHEN: I don’t think Metta’s head was ever really in the game. He slept a lot and didn’t approach anyone ever with a plan. He was happy to go along with a plan if asked and if he liked you. But other than that, I think with him missing his family and it not being a type of competition he is used to playing and defeating his opponents, he didn’t know what to do with himself. This is not his type of game. That being said, he was fun to get to know through the eyes of our camera and I am now a fan.
Which of the three veto options — the Spotlight, the VIP, and the Diamond — would you have voted for and why?
I would have chosen the same VIP veto because it was the most interesting and had the potential to shake up the game the most. I mean, Spotlight was interesting but if you didn’t like it, you could throw the competition. Diamond was my second favorite of the three, but again, if you win it, you get blood on your hands. Again, you can throw it if you don’t want to win it and be forced to put someone in the crosshairs.
Who in this game is all bark and no bite — meaning they talk a big game in the Diary Room but then don’t actually go out and do anything or make any big moves?
Mark is all talk and no bite. But at least his talk is interesting. He gives good sound bites in the Diary Room and he has a good sense of the game and what’s going on in the house. But why should he play hard? He doesn’t need to right now. If push comes to shove, we shall see what he’s really made of in terms of being a gamer… or not.
Fans have been digging the celebrity edition and ratings have been strong going up against the Olympics. Could we see an annual celebrity installment every winter?
I wouldn’t rule it out! Who knows? It’s definitely possible. With these ratings, it did what we hoped as opposed to running repeats of the current slate of shows. It all depends how well all the shows on the air are doing. But don’t forget, B.B. takes up a lot of real estate on the prime-time schedule. We are used to having at least three nights to air in a week. CBS is known for having a strong schedule of shows year round so it’s hard to say right now what will happen next winter.
Finally, you already broke my heart by saying we won’t see the Zingbot this season, but might there be an OTEV sighting in our future?
I love me some OTEV too! I haven’t asked our competition department if they have it up their sleeve. But I will say with the weather being so cold in L.A. this whole week (we had snow and hail today for Pete’s sake!)… OTEV seems unusually mean. But I know these super fans in there right now want the full experience. They openly asked for Slop! So stay tuned!!!