This article is about the English Version in the United States. For the Spanish Version, see Gran Hermano USA.
Big Brother is a popular international reality show franchise with an American version owned by CBS.
- 1 How it Works
- 1.1 American series
- 1.2 Original Format (Big Brother 1)
- 1.3 Current Format (Big Brother 2 - present)
- 1.4 Big Brother House
- 2 History
- 3 Editions
- 4 Logo History
- 5 Ratings
- 6 Trivia
- 7 References
How it Works
Big Brother is a reality television show in which a group of people live together in a large house, isolated from the outside world but continuously watched by television cameras. Each series lasts for around three months, and there are 10-17 participants. The housemates try to win a cash prize by avoiding periodic evictions from the house.
While most versions of Big Brother feature evictions that are voted on by polling television audiences over the phone or the internet, the American version shifted before Big Brother 2 to play off the popularity of Survivor and changed the format to have the other house guests evict players.
Retrieved from CBS
BIG BROTHER follows a group of people living together in a house outfitted with dozens of high-definition cameras and microphones recording their every move, 24 hours a day. Each week, the houseguests will vote someone out of the house. At the end, the last remaining houseguest will receive the grand prize of $500,000.
Original Format (Big Brother 1)
The original American version of Big Brother follows a different format compared to its succeeding seasons. This format followed the Dutch format used by many Big Brother franchises around the world, notably Big Brother UK.
In this format, the narrative of the series focuses more on the organic relationships among the housemates while staying in their authentic selves rather than the competitive and strategic narrative that the current American format does. In this format, the housemates were not allowed to strategize nor influence fellow housemates on who to vote for nominations and evictions and doing so is considered a major violation. In addition, the American public has the sole power to evict a houseguest as well as select a winner at the end of the season.
The major elements of the format are as follows:
Every week, Big Brother gives the houseguests a Weekly Task. The result of the weekly task determine the house's grocery budget for the upcoming week. These weekly tasks typically last for more than a day up to an entire week and often require teamwork in order to succeed. Prior to the start of their weekly tasks, Big Brother allows them to bet their budget depending on the house's confidence on succeeding the task. If the house won their weekly task, they would receive the amount of budget they decided bet on Big Brother, but if they failed their weekly task they would lose the amount of budget they bet and they would only be allowed to use the remaining amount in their grocery budget.
All houseguests must nominate two housemates for eviction. During the nominations, the houseguests must individually go to the Diary Room to cast their nomination votes. The housemates with the two highest nomination votes would become the nominees for the week. Because of this, the number of nominees may increase if there are housemates who tied for having the most votes.
Eviction or Banishment
Once the nominees have been named, the voting lines would open for the American public to vote for the houseguest they want to evict. The voting will remain open until the end of the week wherein the housemate with the highest amount of evict votes would be banished from the Big Brother house.
During the live Finale event, only the final three would be eligible to win and the viewers had the power to select for who they want to win via Vote to Win process. After a week of voting, the housemate who gained the highest amount of public vote would become the winner.
Despite the popularity of the format among its international counterparts, the American version failed to bring the popularity among American viewers, eventually blamed on its poor casting and production choices. With the rising popularity of another reality series Survivor, Big Brother U.S. prompted to make radical changes on the American franchise of Big Brother and how it is played.
Current Format (Big Brother 2 - present)
Beginning on its second season, Big Brother US deviated from its original format and introduced a new form of game mechanics that focuses more on gameplay, strategy and competition rather than organic relationships and authenticity. This format has been in use since and has developed over time.
In this new format, the American public's power over the house has been transferred to the houseguests themselves as they are now responsible for evicting their fellow houseguests. Because of this drastic change, the housemates are now allowed to influence other houseguests and strategize on who to evict, resulting to the creation of alliances. Further, a various special powers have been added into the game, namely Head of Household and Power of Veto, thus changing the gameplay of the American version completely different to that of its international counterparts.
Head of Household
Every week, the houseguests compete in a Head of Household competition wherein the winner will be named as the Head of Household. The HoH gains safety for the week along with its perks such as having his/her own private suite and gifts/photos from home. However, the HoH also gains the responsibility to name two nominees that will face eviction.
In the nomination ceremony, the Head of Household must announce his/her nominees to the rest of the houseguests and must state valid reasons for their nomination often through a speech. Throughout the week, the nominees are allowed secure their safety by encouraging and influencing other houseguests to save them against their fellow nominee.
Power of Veto
Since Big Brother 3 (US), a special power called Power of Veto has been in play, giving the nominees a chance to remove themselves off the block. In Big Brother 3 and Big Brother 4 (US), all houseguests are allowed to compete in a Power of Veto competition and the winner will have the power to save a nominee, prompting the Head of Household to replace a nominee. If the Power of Veto holder decides not to use the veto, the nominations will remain the same.
In Big Brother 5 (US) and Big Brother 6 (US), only six players were allowed to compete in the veto competition, with the Head of Household and the two Nominees each selecting one houseguest to compete.
Since Big Brother 7 (US), the other three houseguests competing are selected by random draw.
As the format allows housemates to strategize, the most of the housemates have formed alliances during their time in the house to further themselves in the game. An alliance is a group of housemates that are considered loyal to each other by working together throughout the game.
During the live eviction, the houseguests must individually go to the Diary Room to cast their eviction vote and the nominee with the highest amount of votes will be evicted. In addition, the Head of Household is not allowed to cast a vote, unless there has been a tie.
The Jury is a council usually consisting of 7 to 9 houseguests that have been evicted out of the game, and they have the responsibility to select the winner at the end of the season.
As of Big Brother 11 (US), only three houseguests are allowed to reach the live finale, but only two houseguests will remain for the Jury vote. The two remaining houseguests must persuade the Jury via speech to vote them as their winner. At the end of their speech, the jury will individually cast their vote live and the finalist with the most jury votes will be named the winner. Prior to season 11, the third place finisher was determined days earlier, leaving only the final two to reach finale and thus the Jury vote.
Big Brother House
Main Article: Big Brother House/United States
The idea for the show is said to come during a brainstorm session at the production house of John de Mol Produkties (an independent part of Endemol) on 4 September 1997. The first Big Brother broadcast was in the Netherlands in 1999 on the Veronica TV channel. It was picked up by Germany, Portugal, USA, UK, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland and Italy the following year and became a worldwide sensation. Since then it has been a prime-time hit in almost 70 countries. The show's name comes from George Orwell's 1948 dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
As of Big Brother 23 (US), a total of 323 people have participated across 23 main broadcast seasons (288 players), one digital season (12 new players), and two celebrity seasons (23 players). As of Big Brother 22 (US), 40 players from the main broadcast seasons returned to play the game again, including one who crossed over to the digital season. Of those 40 players, six of them returned to play for a third time, while one of those six then went on to play the game for a fourth time. That marks 47 times those 40 players returned overall.
Nine other players were eligible to play the game again but ultimately did not make it in again, either due to losing a fan vote, or in the case of Big Brother 11 (US), having their Clique lose the opening challenge. One player had two chances to play again but failed to enter both times. In Big Brother 1 (US), one woman was given the chance to enter the game late but ultimately did not enter.
Two contestants are connected to Celebrity Big Brother (UK), with one who originated on Big Brother 16 (US) crossing over to Celebrity Big Brother 18 (UK), while one who originated on Celebrity Big Brother 20 (UK) crossed over to Celebrity Big Brother 1 (US). Another contestant was eligible to participate in Big Brother Canada 4, but did not get voted in.
Usually the contestants are all strangers who are meeting each other for the first time when they move in, but in some seasons, twists have been implemented where at least two contestants know each other before entering the house, whether through a friendship, current or past relationship, or a familial connection. Not counting Returning Players or celebrity contestants, houseguests who have a pre-existing relationship hail from the following seasons: Big Brother 4 (US) through Big Brother 9 (US), Big Brother 17 (US), Big Brother: Over The Top and Big Brother 21 (US).
List of Returning Players
|Season||Returned to Future Season||Season||Returned to Future Season|
|Most recent season
Most recent returnee season
|Big Brother (US) Seasons|
|Season||Season Run||Days||HouseGuests||Winner||Runner-Up||Final Vote|
Big Brother 1 (US)
|July 5, 2000 -
September 29, 2000
Big Brother 2 (US)
|July 5, 2001 -
September 20, 2001
Big Brother 3 (US)
|July 10, 2002 -
September 25, 2002
Big Brother 4 (US)
|July 8, 2003 -
September 24, 2003
Big Brother 5 (US)
|July 6, 2004 -
September 21, 2004
Big Brother 6 (US)
|July 7, 2005 -
September 20, 2005
Big Brother 7 (US)
|July 6, 2006 -
September 12, 2006
Big Brother 8 (US)
|July 5, 2007 -
September 18, 2007
Big Brother 9 (US)
|February 12, 2008 -
April 27, 2008
Big Brother 10 (US)
|July 13, 2008 -
September 16, 2008
Big Brother 11 (US)
|July 9, 2009 -
September 15, 2009
Big Brother 12 (US)
|July 8, 2010 -
September 15, 2010
Big Brother 13 (US)
|July 4, 2011 -
September 14, 2011
Big Brother 14 (US)
|July 12, 2012 -
September 19, 2012
Big Brother 15 (US)
|June 26, 2013 -
September 18, 2013
Big Brother 16 (US)
|June 25, 2014 -
September 24, 2014
Big Brother 17 (US)
|June 24, 2015 -
September 23, 2015
Big Brother 18 (US)
|June 22, 2016 -
September 21, 2016
Big Brother: Over The Top
|September 28, 2016 -
December 1, 2016
Big Brother 19 (US)
|June 28, 2017 -
September 20, 2017
Celebrity Big Brother 1 (US)
|February 7 - 25, 2018||26||1115||6-3|
Big Brother 20 (US)
|June 27, 2018 -
September 26, 2018
Celebrity Big Brother 2 (US)
|January 21, 2019 -
February 13, 2019
Big Brother 21 (US)
|June 25, 2019 -
September 25, 2019
Big Brother 22 (US)
|August 5, 2020 -
October 28, 202018
Big Brother 23 (US)
|July 7, 2021 -
September 29, 2021
|16||To Be Determined|
|^1 The viewing public decided the winner of the season, voting between a Final Three instead of a Final Two.|
^2 Eight houseguests entered the house, followed by five houseguests that were ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends of five people from the original eight.
Note: For a simpler version, click here
|Big Brother (US) Average Viewers Per Season|
|Season||Premiere Date||Finale Date||Avg Viewers
|Main Show||Live Feeds||After Dark|
|Big Brother 1||July 5, 2000||September 29, 2000||9.10||70||CBS||AOL|
|Big Brother 2||July 5, 2001||September 20, 2001||7.90||30||RealNetworks|
|Big Brother 3||July 10, 2002||September 25, 2002||8.70||33|
|Big Brother 4||July 8, 2003||September 24, 2003||8.80|
|Big Brother 5||July 6, 2004||September 21, 2004||8.30||31|
|Big Brother 6||July 7, 2005||September 20, 2005||7.24||30|
|Big Brother 7||July 6, 2006||September 12, 2006||7.56||28|
|Big Brother 8||July 5, 2007||September 18, 2007||7.52||33||Showtime 2|
|Big Brother 9||February 12, 2008||April 27, 2008||6.56|
|Big Brother 10||July 13, 2008||September 16, 2008||6.72||29|
|Big Brother 11||July 9, 2009||September 15, 2009||7.19||30|
|Big Brother 12||July 8, 2010||September 15, 2010||7.76|
|Big Brother 13||July 4, 2011||September 14, 2011||7.95||29|
|Big Brother 14||July 12, 2012||September 19, 2012||6.79||30|
|Big Brother 15||June 26, 2013||September 18, 2013||6.47||36||CBS All-Access||TVGN|
|Big Brother 16||June 25, 2014||September 24, 2014||6.41||40|
|Big Brother 17||June 24, 2015||September 23, 2015||6.18|
|Big Brother 18||June 22, 2016||September 21, 2016||5.78||42||Pop|
|Big Brother: Over The Top||September 28, 2016||December 1, 2016||N/A||10||CBS All-Access|
|Big Brother 19||June 28, 2017||September 20, 2017||6.06||39||CBS||CBS All-Access||Pop|
|Celebrity Big Brother 1||February 7, 2018||February 25, 2018||5.05||13|
|Big Brother 20||June 27, 2018||September 26, 2018||5.41||40|
|Celebrity Big Brother 2||January 21, 2019||February 13, 2019||4.40||13|
|Big Brother 21||June 25, 2019||September 25, 2019||4.27||40|
|Big Brother 22||August 5, 2020||October 28, 2020||3.94||37|
|Big Brother 23||July 7, 2021||September 29, 2021||TBD||Paramount+|
|Key:||Increase in Viewership||Decrease in Viewership|
- Big Brother US is the first international franchise to move away from the original format of Big Brother.
- Big Brother US used to have a theme song entitled "Live" performed by Jonathan Clarke. However it was only used in the show's first season and was dropped after major changes to the production and format took place before the second season started.
- The theme song was then adopted by Big Brother Brazil in 2002 and was translated in Portuguese. The Portuguese version of the song has been in use since and is used as the music in the series' opening billboard.
- The current 2-story Big Brother House is the second incarnation of the house and was first used in Big Brother 6 (US). The first five seasons used the original house with only one story and used to be located a few blocks away from the current house.
- Big Brother House is the first Big Brother franchise to use a two-story house.
- From Big Brother 2 (US) up to Big Brother 14 (US), the show's studio stage featured different set backgrounds every season. From Big Brother 15 (US) up to Big Brother 21 (US) front of house stage remained the same, before the next major redesign in Big Brother 22 (US).
- It wasn't until Big Brother 10 (US) where a live audience started appearing on the show's studio set. Prior to that, the houseguests got evicted without an audience to welcome them but the host, Julie Chen.
- As of Big Brother 22, only two winners were voted by the American viewers, Eddie McGee of Big Brother 1 and Morgan Willett of Big Brother: Over The Top.
- In every season to feature a male-female Final Two, the male HouseGuest has won, up until Big Brother 18 (US), where Nicole Franzel beat out Paul Abrahamian by one vote. Coincidentally, every season after that, main or spin-off, the female HouseGuest has always won against the male, up until Big Brother 21 (US).
- There have been 15 men and 10 women who have won Big Brother.
- Dan Gheesling, Tamar Braxton and Cody Calafiore are the only winners to win with a unanimous Jury vote.
- Dan and Cody are the only winners to play a Perfect Game.
- Dan is also the first person to reach the Final Two twice, followed by Paul and Cody.
- Curtis Kin and Kryssie Ridolfi are the only people to place 3rd and still be eligible finalists to win the season.
|Big Brother Franchises|
|Africa||Africa · Angola · Cameroon · Nigeria · South Africa|
|Americas||Argentina · Brazil · Canada (Quebec) · Colombia · Ecuador · Mexico · Pacific · Panama · Peru · United States (Spanish)|
|Asia-Pacific||Arab States · Australia · China · India · Indonesia · Israel · Philippines · Russia · Thailand · Vietnam · Turkey|
|Europe||Albania · Balkans · Belgium · Bulgaria · Croatia · Czech Republic · Denmark · Finland · France (Loft) · Germany · Greece · Hungary (Való Világ) · Italy · Lithuania · Netherlands · Norway · Poland · Portugal (Secret) · Romania · Scandinavia · Slovakia · Slovenia · Spain (Secret)· Sweden · Switzerland · United Kingdom · Ukraine|