Big Brother Twitter voting 'a first' for reality primetime TV

By Cory Bergman 

The long-running CBS show Big Brother asked viewers to engage in a Twitter vote that influenced the live show’s outcome, which Twitter said is a first for primetime reality television. During last Thursday’s episode, fans voted with the hashtags #bbReward or #bbPunish to reward or punish the eliminated Houseguest who dropped out of the episode’s “Head of Household” competition. Twitter said 64K votes were cast, and #bbPunish won the day.


While Big Brother may the first reality show to employ hashtag voting in primetime, the FOX show “X Factor” employed a unique form of Twitter voting last fall — direct messages — for fans to pick their favorite contestants. Awards shows, like the Oscars, have also used hashtag voting, a technique that Twitter hopes will become more popular among TV producers.

As we reported before Big Brother 14 premiered this season, the show has elevated its social integration, from the second screen experience “Big Brother Connect” to encouraging fans to tweet with the #BigBrotherHOH hashtag to “Flock to Unlock” exclusive content. And it’s paying off: last week’s episode set the high bar for Big Brother’s social TV numbers. Compared to last season, the show has jumped from an average of 11.3K tweets per episode to 54.5K, according to Bluefin Labs data.

“Big Brother has an insatiable fan base on-air, online and across social platforms,” Marc DeBevoise, SVP and GM of Entertainment at CBS Interactive, told us back in July. “This season, we wanted to give Big Brother fans a true second-screen social experience, offering even more ways for them to find and interact with not only each other, but the show and their favorite houseguests.”