The Next Big Thing
Everyone is excited about social media. Its impact may be over-rated, but it will surely make the public interaction and voting styles of the last decade obsolete. Reaction will be more instantaneous and probably tied in with social media sites. These responses will be part of the fabric of the event, feeding into it at critical moments.
Viewers will be able to interact with the show via webcams and video messaging.
Next, I think the defining shows or shows will be international, even global. Some of the most interesting Big Brothers of the last decade were ones like the African and Arab series, which chose their casts from many different countries, not just one.
Producers thinking about the next big thing might be advised to investigate these international shows to find out what special challenges they posed and what worked best.
Finally, and this follows from the last point, I do not think the defining shows will come from a traditional broadcaster. They might come from a single global platform like You Tube. Or they may be staged and licensed to many broadcasters just like a major international sports event.
But the defining new shows will also remember the fundamentals. Big Brother was a way of letting us see a group of individuals isolated for a long period and therefore forced to experience, work through and deal with the differences between them. The continuous presence of cameras and microphones enable us to see that happening, all the gossip, the backchat. Then there was a confessional element – then private sessions with Big Brother – gave us a chance to find out how it “felt” for an individual, a chance for us to experience vicariously the strains and stresses of the event.
What about regulation? Big Brother posed risks. Attachments were formed and some shows screened couples having sex. Others did not, and some countries came near to banning the show for this reason. But nearly every broadcaster put in place editorial controls on continuous internet feeds, which were usually delayed so that emergency edits could be made.
Nor was that just about sexual content. For broadcasters still had to worry about libel and mitigate other risks such as libel and and broadcaster codes on issues like race prejudice. International scope and scale will pose wholly new regulatory issues.