reality tv

The Australian influencers who ruined reality TV.

The golden age of reality TV is officially a relic of the past.

Last week's Channel 7 premiere of Big Brother only had 274,000 metro viewers, which is almost half the amount the 2022 premiere drew with 487,000.

Of course, these figures pale in comparison to the first 10 seasons of Big Brother, which aired from 2001 to 2013, and reached between 800,000 and more than a million viewers on average.

The 2012 winner, Tim Dormer, shared his thoughts on the current iteration of Big Brother on Instagram.

"The other day someone from BB emailed me to ask if I would promote their new season to you," his post read.

"Apologies if I’m offending some really great (and some not-so-great) TV people… but there’s no hiding I’m not the biggest fan of BB’s current era. Big Brother was the original, but now seems lost in an era of trying to be like and liked by everyone else."

Tim Dormer in his iconic skeleton onesie. Image: Instagram/@timdormer. 


The rebooted, more strategic version of Big Brother on Channel 7 has been criticised for being too similar to Survivor, yet this year's emphasis on housemate hook-ups feels a little too close to Love Island's seedy storylines. 

This year's cast features a number of influencers, like TikTok-famous sisters Tay and Ari Wilcoxson and influencer Taylah Davies. 

Big Brother is not the only reality show falling in ratings. 

Reality TV juggernaut Married at First Sight has seen a downturn in viewership since the dizzying heights of the 2019 season, featuring Jessika Power and Martha Kalifatidis

This year's MAFS premiere had the lowest ratings in four years.

Australian Survivor had a similar trajectory, peaking around 2019 but steadily declining in ratings ever since – though it still remains one of Channel Ten's most lucrative reality franchises.


In contrast, there is The Bachelor. At its height during the Nick 'Honey Badger' Cummins season, The Bachelor was raking in a national audience of 1.52 million, an audience seemingly unreachable in today's reality climate.

On the rebooted season of The Bachelors which aired in early 2023, the show's finale only drew in 372,00 viewers.

It's worth noting that via catch-up on 10Play, the grand finale ended up drawing in a total of 715,000 viewers, which could explain the network's decision to bring the format back for another three-man season this December. 

But whether The Bachelor is considered a success or not, it will never recapture the magic it once had in the early 2010s and that's because potential contestants now see the series – and all reality shows – as their ticket to becoming an influencer on Instagram and TikTok.

It makes sense, some of Australia's biggest influencers like MAFS stars Jessika, Martha, and Domenica Calarco, along with Big Brother's Tully Smyth and Skye Wheatley, all got their start on reality TV.  

Jessika Power has over 350k followers. Image: Instagram/@jessika_power.


But unfortunately, a show full of wannabe influencers doesn't necessarily translate to good TV.

Look no further than last year's Byron Baes on Netflix. The short-lived series brought together a mismatch of random influencers living in Byron Bay, and while it was enjoyable enough in its absurdity and cringe factor, as a reality show, it failed to offer enough likable characters that viewers could genuinely root for.

The reality show was never green-lit for a second season. 

This year's MAFS was flooded with influencers, with the likes of Bronte Schofield, Janelle Han, Evelyn Ellis and Melinda Willis all being established on social media long before bursting out as reality-TV brides.

Next year's cast looks set to be the same story, with Gold Coast influencer Cassandra Allen and food blogger Lauren Dunn both rumoured to be contestants.


The only reality show that can seemingly get away with reality TV's transition to an influencer platform is Love Island, which has always leaned into the fact the islanders exploit the show for social media clout.

The difference between Love Island and more established reality franchises like Big Brother is that it's a relatively new show, at least for Australian viewers. 

Since its debut in 2018, the Australian version has increasingly drawn most of its viewers from its streaming service 9Now, and the demographic skews drastically younger with ages ranging from 16 to 39. 

This younger demographic were raised in an environment where influencers were everywhere – they're not a new concept; influencers are the people that many Gen Zers aspired to be growing up. Quite literally, with a US study finding that more than half of Gen Z people surveyed would jump at the chance to become an influencer. 

Whether we like it or not, establishing a brand has taken precedence over being authentic on reality shows.

Long live the golden age of reality TV. Gone but not forgotten – at least, by those old enough to remember it. 

Feature image: Channel 7.  

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