With word spreading that Richard Desmond is about to evict Channel 5 from the Northern & Shell stable, bbspy examines what the move could mean for its flagship show, Big Brother UK…
Dark clouds have been forming over the most famous house in Britain in recent weeks, as another storm threatens the future of our favourite reality show.
Just as it had hit its stride in its new home four years after being axed by Channel 4, Big Brother is now facing another period of uncertainty, as Channel 5 is being offered up for sale.
Although there’s been rumours current owner – media tycoon Richard Desmond – has been looking to offload it for months, it seems this time he’s serious, as he recently stepped down from C5′s board of directors, and he’s issued a deadline of next week for bids.
Of course, there’s the chance that he won’t go through with the deal – some analysts reckon his asking price of £700million may be a bit hefty. But that hasn’t stopped speculation among Big Brother fans about what will happen to it if C5 does change hands.
The sale would come as a significant below, even though BB is safe for the near future – the fifteenth civilian and fourteenth Celebrity series will air this summer.
But the contract has yet to be renewed – so what about the long-term? Here we look at how Big Brother might be affected if Channel 5 is taken over.
CON: Reduced press coverage
The second Richard Desmond waves bye-bye to Channel 5, Big Brother loses its close association with his publishing empire – and the vast majority of its press coverage.
Over the past three years, Northern & Shell titles including The Daily Star, OK! Magazine and New! Magazine have been largely responsible for drumming up interest for the show with countless pages of exclusive stories and questionable rumours (remember the promises of endless live feed and the slapdash Golden Ticket contest they ran in 2011?)
Although these titles will likely continue to feature it in some form – tabloids thrive on reality shows – you can guarantee that, without the vested interest, Big Brother definitely won’t be generating as many front page headlines.
PRO: A new focus
On the plus side, if C5 is taken over by a company that’s known more for broadcasting than showbiz gossip, there could well be an improvement in the quality of the show.
Desmond has made no secret of the fact that he intended to use Big Brother as a platform to boost profiles and cross-promote certain figures across his empire. The most notable example was Amy Childs, who landed her own C5 reality show after she came fourth in CBB8 – but even recently OK! has been milking the Lee Ryan love triangle for all it’s worth.
Although we doubt that a new owner would have a change of heart on the live feed, perhaps if they’re less celebrity obsessed they’ll re-establish the rules and order aspect of the format and tone down its recent TOWIE-with-tasks mantra.
Failing that, at least they might put an end to the days of housemates being allowed outside contact for other work opportunities…
CON: Budget cuts
In the run up to Channel 5′s Big Brother debut in 2011, it was confirmed by their former director of television Jeff Ford that Desmond funds the show from a cash pot separate to their main programming budget.
With someone less enthusiastic about the show at the top, the show would almost inevitably be subject to budget cuts, which would affect anything from the house design, to the quality of the tasks, to the calibre of Celebrity housemates.
PRO: Fewer Celebrity series
Fortunately, there’s an obvious way to slash costs – axe the summer Celebrity editions.
So far, they’ve only had slightly higher ratings than the civilian editions they’ve followed, and in terms of output they’ve paled in comparison to the winter series.
Therefore, a new owner may well see fit to return to the old format of one Celebrity and one normal version annually. Doing so would not only save money on whopping housemate fees – the highest paid ever were Irish X Factor twins Jedward (that’s right, Jedward) on an eye-watering £1million – but it would also reduce the production team’s workload and give them more time to come up with new ideas.
Such a move could also increase Big Brother’s lifespan, as viewer appetite for it will inevitably grow with one less series a year to look forward to.
CON: Less support from the new owners
But what if a new owner didn’t want to hold on to Big Brother?
When the show was in limbo after Channel 4 axed it, C5 – under its previous parent company RTL – was the only broadcasting firm that declared an interest in taking it on.
Once Desmond announced he’d acquired the network, he immediately named Big Brother as the first show he wanted to commission. His team entered talks with Endemol as soon as it had wrapped on C4, and he’s supported it ever since he signed the contract.
There’s always the possibility that his successor won’t want to hold on to the fifteen-year-old reality format – especially if it turns out to be one of the companies that declared it dead in 2009. And even if they want to keep BB in the short term, they could start looking at replacements sooner rather than later.
PRO: More support from the new owners
On the other hand, there’s the fact that Big Brother has far and away been Channel 5′s biggest success story of recent years.
BB has paid Channel 5 ratings dividends, helping them to increase their audience share in 2012 for the first time since 2004. It even beat its nearest rival, Channel 4, in the weekly shares across one seven day period last July – a feat it has never achieved before.
Meanwhile, the show’s viewing figures have increased every year since it switched broadcasters, with January’s CBB13 becoming the highest rated series since 2010 – and the first since 2006 whose final was more watched than its launch episode.
Big Brother has also helped C5′s business, being one of the factors that helped it turn over a profit of over £20million last year – RTL had previously racked up losses of £48million.
But in simpler terms, there’s no other C5 programme that gets the same amount of attention as Big Brother.
While millions have continued to follow the twists and turns from the Elstree Studios bungalow, The Bachelor fizzled out after two series, Dallas crashed from 3million viewers to the hundreds of thousands, American Idol failed to make the same impression on 5* that it did on ITV2 – and the less said about Celebrity Super Spa the better.
Even Monday’s The Big British Immigration Row: Live failed to maintain the two million that tuned in to the headline-grabbing The Big Benefits Row: Live earlier this month.
If Desmond does manage to rid himself of Channel 5, the new owner would be pretty stupid to ditch Big Brother. After all, you wouldn’t expect ITV to call time on The X Factor, even though it has lost three million viewers over three years…
Read more: http://www.bbspy.co.uk/bb15/features/0221/channel-5-sale-what-does-it-mean-for-big-brother-uk-2014#ixzz2uGs3XgFh
TV is reportedly set to offer Emma Willis a presenting role on This Morning that would force her to quit Celebrity Big Brother.
Emma’s profile has exploded since she was promoted to the face of the Channel 5 show last year, with the BBC giving the 37-year-old her biggest gig to date by hiring her to replace Holly Willoughby on The Voice UK.
However, according to The Sunday People, ITV’s head of daytime Helen Warner will attempt to poach her as she seeks to ‘freshen up’ the broadcaster’s programming.
The newspaper claims Emma would have to leave both Big Brother and The Voice for the new job – even though Willoughby continued to front This Morning while working on the talent contest.
A source at ITV commented: “Emma is hugely talented and has so much potential to be one of the channel’s most high profile faces. They have a reputation for having great women and Emma would add to those already there and strengthen their position in the TV industry.”
Emma currently appears on This Morning as one of the hosts of its ‘Hub’ segment. She has also worked with ITV on ill-fated gameshow Prize Island, and ITV2 dating format Girlfriends.
Emma – who also presents a Sunday morning breakfast show on Heart FM with Stephen Mulhern – previously insisted that she’d ‘absolutely’ stay with Big Brother.
Read more: http://www.bbspy.co.uk/bb15/news/0223/itv-persuading-emma-willis-to-quit-big-brother-channel-5#ixzz2uGrfCcMR