When will the networks learn that in today’s age of instant streaming, tape delaying ‘live’ programs is about the worst thing you can do to viewers?
That’s what CBS has announced they plan to do next Wednesday when, for the first time ever, they reveal the cast of Big Brother All Stars live for East Coast viewers only.
Those in the Central, Mountain and Pacific time zones will have to rely upon Twitter and other social media to alert them to what’s happening.
In 2020, that’s just plain wrong.
So wrong that NBC decided last year to broadcast Saturday Night Live at the same time across the country.
“‘SNL’ is part of the national conversation,” NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt said when the move was announced. “We thought it would be a great idea to broadcast to the West and Mountain time zones live at the same time it’s being seen in the East and Central time zones.”
In other words, before Twitter and Facebook users on the East Coast spoil the jokes for the rest of us.
The move is part of a larger push for live programming — a reaction to the ongoing shift in TV viewing habits from linear, terrestrial broadcasts to on-demand or streaming options.
Which is why the experiment makes as much sense for NBC as it does for “SNL.”
The show last year enjoyed one of its strongest seasons in recent memory.
But apparently CBS doesn’t get it.
They’d rather discriminate against over half the country, and leave fans scrambling to either look at captions on social media, or ignore their feeds altogether.
Executive producer Allison Grodner answered a lot of questions last week about how the crew and cast will handle doing the show during a pandemic.
“We are all living in a very uncertain time right now,” said Grodner on EW Live. “And we were only going to do this if everything was absolutely approved and we can do this safely. So it certainly was touch and go all the way up until quite recently, but we are ready. We are so excited, ’cause it’s an all-stars season and it’s a brand-new house and a lot is brand new actually.”
But concern about revealing the cast to east coast fans first, despite the show originating in California, didn’t seem to bother her at all.
“For the first time ever, we are having a two-hour all-live premiere, which means that everything is happening as it’s happening,” she said. “But in order to do this, we certainly have made this an incredibly active jam-packed two hours that is going to keep these all-stars really busy. So there’s a lot going on. It’s completely different than a regular premiere.”
A regular premiere would also favor fans on the east coast, but at least everyone would know who is playing the game.
This All Star season, however, is leaving over half the country in the dark and discriminating against those who choose not to live in eastern time zone.
CBS should do the right thing and reveal the cast before Wednesday night.
Or follow the lead of SNL and broadcast it at the same time across the country.
Otherwise stop calling it a ‘live’ reveal when two-thirds of the country will not be seeing it live.
On top of all the ongoing questions facing Big Brother about casting, and race, and ageism, don’t add this blatant mistake to the list.