We did it!

Has Canada done it? Do we finally have a show that gives its American counterparts a run for their money?

Big Brother Canada premiered late last month and much to many people’s surprise it wasn’t a disappointing debut. I know many crazed fans of the American version were expecting ours to once again seem like a cheap knockoff, just like the Idol shows, dance shows, housewives shows, etc. They were surprised.

Rather than airing on Global, Big Brother Canada airs on the much tinier and lesser-known channel, Slice. Though the initial episode aired on Shaw’s, well, big brother network Global, the thought was airing BB Canada on a mainstream channel and promoting Slice would drive viewers to watch or subscribe to the channel if they don’t already have it. Apparently, it worked.

The series premiere was reportedly watched by 3.3 million Canadians between viewers of Global and Slice. The show has maintained a steady audience well into its first week. And unlike the American version, live streams and episodes are free for Canadian Internet users.

As I’ve previously said in this column, it is very easy for the Canadian version of a hit show to be overshadowed by a successful American version, however that doesn’t seem to be the case this time around.

Sure, the prize money might not be as much for our contestants but the house in which they live is just as cool – if not cooler – than the one housing American players in Los Angeles.

Many people are quick to watch a few minutes of a show and say, “Ah, it’s a low-end Canadian version” but, aside from the obviously Newfie accents, none of my American colleagues knew it was a Canadian program with the few-minute clip I’d sent them. You don’t realize how huge that is for Canada!

There is speculation that Shaw will move Big Brother Canada to Global next season (if the show returns) as it even beat out some of the American programming airing on other Canadian stations that week. Big Brother Canada looks like it could be a ratings contender with some of the huge American shows simulcast on Canuck stations.

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