CBS has announced the details and premiere date for its new digital-only version of its hit reality show Big Brother. The web edition will be known as Big Brother Over the Top, will last 10 weeks and will feature 24-hour live streams, daily recaps and one full episode each week in which host Julie Chen presides over a live eviction.
The show will be available exclusively to All Access customers who will be charged $5.99 per month for the ability to watch the show, in addition to streaming local CBS stations and thousands of previously-aired episodes of CBS shows, including every episode of Big Brother ever. The show is still airing its 18th season on the network, which will end with the 90-minute grand finale on Sept. 21, when one of the remaining finalists will be crowned the winner and receive the $500,000 prize money. This has been the longest-ever season of Big Brother, lasting 99 days, and less than a week after the season 18 finale, the new digital edition will begin airing on Sept. 28.
The digital version will last for 10 weeks and will differ from the original show in various respects. While the current broadcast version of the show airs three full one-hour episodes of edited content on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday nights, the digital version will only feature one episode per week, which will include that week's live eviction and be hosted by Julie Chen, who has been presiding over the show since it first began airing in 2000.
Viewers will have access to 24/7 daily live feeds of the activity within the house, and there will be no scheduled blackout periods from the feeds as there are during the broadcast edition. Daily recap shows will be aired to summarize the day's events, although the length of the recaps has not yet been indicated.
The show will also emphasize viewer participation in the course of the show, with subscribers being promised "more control than ever" over house activities and challenges. The U.S. version has been gradually allowing viewers to participate in decisions that have an impact on who has power in the house and that directly affect who remains on the show and who is evicted. That aligns the show more closely with many of the successful international versions, including that of the UK, in which viewers themselves vote on who is evicted from the house. The U.S. and Canadian versions base their weekly evictions on votes from the house guests themselves.
In tandem with the premiere of Big Brother OTT, CBS is also offering a free one-week trial to new subscribers. Once the week is up, they can choose to pay $5.99 per month for an All Access subscription, or $9.99 for a newly-announced tier offering limited commercials.
The biggest difference of all, however, between the broadcast and digital versions of Big Brother, might be the prize fund for the winner. While the broadcast version promises a half-million-dollar reward to the last man or woman standing, the digital version has halved that amount for its prize, which will be a check for a still-hefty $250,000.