Shattered ‘Glass’: Poor Showing For ABC Reality Show

Controversial ‘Big Brother’ copycat flops in premiere

In a nod to a rival network’s attempts to block the launch of The Glass House, ABC on Monday night introduced its new reality series as “the show they didn’t want you to see.” But if the early ratings are anything to go by, “they” don’t have much to worry about.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the premiere of The Glass House delivered 3.98 million viewers and a 1.5 rating in the all-important adults 18-to-49 demo, leaving ABC in third place in the 10 p.m. hour behind NBC’s American Ninja Warrior and repeats of The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men on CBS.

In the first half-hour, the show averaged 4.56 million viewers and a 1.7 rating in the demo, but it was all downhill from there. In the 10:30 p.m.-11 p.m. time slot, deliveries fell 26 percent to 3.39 million viewers, while the dollar demo dropped 24 percent to a 1.3 rating.

When compared to the year-ago time slot occupant, Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, The Glass House was off 30 percent in total deliveries and down 25 percent in the demo.

While CBS last week tried to convince a court to halt the premiere of TGH, arguing that the concept was a brazen ripoff of its own summer flagship, Big Brother, Monday’s ratings suggest that viewers have already rendered their verdict on the show.

The similarities between the two shows are immediately apparent. Both feature a group of contestants who live in a panopticon that is under constant surveillance by cameras and microphones. In both formats, the house guests must compete in a number of physical and mental challenges in order to stave off eviction. 

Like Big Brother, TGH boasts a roster of bimbos, Massholes, nice guys, dimwits and a member in good standing of Mensa, although that probably speaks more to the personality types who are compelled to star in reality shows than with any similarities in their respective formats.

The distinctions between the two series are almost negligible. Whereas Big Brother is hosted by Julie “the Chenbot” Chen, the TGH crew answers to a chilly, disembodied female voice. And while it’s unlikely that anyone on ABC’s show will prove themselves to be as villainous as Big Brother 2’s Justin Sebik—he was the charmer who was bounced out of the house after displaying a propensity for cutlery-enhanced foreplay—Alex, THG’s 25-year-old bail bondsman, is campaigning mightily for the role of America’s Most Unlikeable Creep.

Just as viewers will decide the fate of TGH’s house guests, so too will they have a say in the long-term prospects of the show itself. In the meantime, Big Brother continues to be one of the summer's biggest draws; last summer, the 13th cycle of the series averaged a 3.2 rating in the demo.

On the night, the highest-rated, most-watched program was NBC’s America’s Got Talent (11.4 million viewers and a 2.9 in the demo). NBC won Monday’s prime time ratings race outright, averaging a 2.5 rating on the night, edging Fox and its lineup of Hell’s Kitchen (2.5) and MasterChef (2.3). ABC (1.9) took third place, followed by an all-repeat CBS (1.4) and Univision (1.3).

Also in rerun mode, the CW averaged a 2.0 rating in its target 18-to-34 demo.