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Big Brother +

Big Brother is one of CBS's longest running TV programs and attracts a unique, paying audience to its subscription-based online live feeds. Fans have built entire sites and communities around watching the live feeds. A common frustration among subscribers is that the online live feeds are frequently turned off without warning.


Big Brother + is an app that remedies this ailment for CBS's most valued viewers and provides a wealth of features that will keep the community engaged and happy.

As a UX Designer, I planned and conducted user research to understand subscriber behaviors, expectations, and pain points. I also considered business needs and explored the technological viability to inform the final product using human-centered design methodology.

In addition to this case study, I kept a detailed diary of the project from conception to present day on Medium. The working name for the app was "Feeds On".


UX Designer


To provide Paramount + subscribers with a reliable method to check the real-time status of Big Brother Live Feeds.


March - August 2021


Pen & Paper, Google Surveys, Usability Hub, Adobe Xd, Figma

Design Process
Problems to Solve

The task was to design an app that alleviates prolonged pain points felt by the Big Brother fan community. Key insights gathered from foundational research informed the design of an innovative TV show-engagement experience.

1. Hook Users

Use external triggers to keep Paramount + subscribers "hooked" to CBS/Paramount products by using the methods outlined in Nir Eyal's Hooked.

  • Research Insight: Participants estimate that when they start to watch live feeds, they will devote an average of 3 hours per day to viewing.

2. Keep Users Informed

Implement multiple elements that alert Paramount + subscribers when the Big Brother live feeds are turned on.


  • Research Insight: Almost all of the user survey and user interview participants expressed a strong desire for a product which would tell them if Big Brother live feeds are turned on or off.

3. Embrace Competition

Design a platform that showcases the competitive elements of the show Big Brother to give Paramount + subscribers more of a rooting interest in the contestants.


  • Research Insight: Participants regularly engage with fan-run Big Brother Twitter accounts [>90%], podcasts [66%], and websites [75%] to stay up to date with live feed events.

The Solution

Big Brother + is the result of extensive research with a large segment of real Paramount + subscribers. The app uses push notifications to alert subscribers and keep them hooked when there are changes in live feed status. The app itself also features a large live feed status indicator which allows subscribers to always stay informed of the live feed status. Finally, Big Brother + showcases the competitive nature of the show and presents statistics in a manner that emulates sports apps.

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Push Notifications

Status Indicator

Player Stats

Competitive Nature

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User Research

To understand the viewers of Big Brother better, I conducted user research in three phases. First, I created a technology probe to share with various community groups to gauge overall interest. Then, I distributed a user survey which garnered over 70 responses. Finally, user interviews were conducted and the data from all three processes was analyzed in an affinity map to answer questions asked in the form of research goals.

Three User Research processes were utilized to collect qualitative and quantitative data from over 100 actual Paramount + subscribers.

Research Goals

Goal 1: How much time do Paramount + subscribers spend watching Big Brother live feeds?

  • Subscribers watch the Live Feeds for 3-7 days per week during the season.

  • Subscribers typically spend at least 3 hours per day watching the Live Feeds on days they watch.

  • Subscribers watch Live Feeds for an average of 5 hours per day.

Big Brother fans watch Live Feeds for an average five hours a day between three and seven times per week.

Goal 2: Do Paramount + subscribers use an existing product to find out if the Big Brother live feeds are turned on?

  • Nearly all survey respondents (93%) are subscribed to Feeds Bot on Twitter.

  • Half of the respondents indicated that they receive mobile push notifications from Feeds Bot.

  • 94% of participants expressed a desire to know the current “on/off” status of the Live Feeds before they attempt to access the Live Feed website.

93% of Live Feed viewers currently rely on a Twitter bot to learn Live Feed "on-air" status.

Goal 3: Do Paramount + subscribers currently check existing products to find information about the Big Brother live feeds?

  • Over 90% of participants find information about the live feeds on Twitter.

  • 66% listen to podcasts to stay up to date on daily events.

  • Dedicated fan-made sites attract 75% of respondents to their site for information.

75% of Live Feed viewers use third-party websites to find up-to-date information on Big Brother.

The Problem Statement

“Paramount + subscribers need to know if the Big Brother live feeds are currently on-air with a real-time tracker that is always available to them because the process of checking the website is too time consuming without certainty that the live feeds are currently on-air.

We will know this to be true when subscribers refer to a dedicated mobile app that informs them of real-time live feed on-air status before they decide to watch, or not watch, Big Brother Live Feeds.”

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User Persona

The insights gathered from the user research processes were used to inform a user persona named Mary Riley, who represented the voice of CBS's paid subscribers throughout the design process.

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Journey Map

Mary Riley's presence in the design process was immediate as I produced a journey map of her experience as a Paramount +  subscriber whose expectations of enjoying a night of drama-packed entertainment were not met due to the live feeds being turned off. This process gave me further insight into what other touch points could be utilized to improve Mary's overall experience.

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User Stories

With the support of my user research, I began to view Mary as true User Persona and wanted to have a clear understanding of the problem space through her eyes. In order to accomplish this, I wrote User Stories to see the situation from her perspective.​

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As a Big Brother "Live Feeder", I want to know if the Live Feeds are turned on, so that I don't waste time preparing to watch a blank screen. ​

As a Big Brother "Superfan", I want to easily check house events in one place, so that I don't have to navigate to multiple websites to stay informed

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"How Might We" Questions

The observations from the user research processes was analyzed in an affinity map where they were synthesized to extract insights. These insights were used to inform a user persona named Mary Riley who represented the voice of CBS's paid subscribers throughout the design process.

How might we provide real-time Big Brother Live Feed status to loyal subscribers in a way that minimizes effort?

The core feature of the product needs to alleviate the pain points associated with the live feeds being turned off. It is a critical problem if it leads to Paramount + subscribers canceling their monthly paid subscriptions.

How might we provide additional information like stats and events to increase subscriber engagement?

My goal was to design and test an app that would inform and delight subscribers enough to prefer a CBS/Paramount app over any third-party competitors for Big Brother content and information.

Paper Sketches

Live feed status signifier on home page

Highlights of live feed events on home page


Push notifications when feeds turn on

Incorporate fan content with a Twitter feed

Live Feed Events

Dedicated page to contestant "stats"

Stats 2

Information about weekly ceremonies and events

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Mid Fidelity Prototype

The shining stars of the experience are the Live feed Status indicator and the Push Notifications.

Once users have been alerted to the change in status, they are given the option to open Paramount + and watch the feeds or they can engage with additional content on Big Brother +.

Intro Screen
Push Notification Popup
Rewarding Loyalty

Big Brother has been a part of American TV culture for over 20 years. In that time, live feed subscribers have paid monthly fees to engage with unreliable streams and content. It is 'paramount' that CBS/Paramount begins to show appreciation for this unwavering loyalty.

A major shared pain point is the frustration of Live Feeds being turned off after planning a day around watching them. Implementing Push Notifications that indicate a change in Live Feed status is a great step toward remedying this issue.

93% of subscribers interviewed are already engaging with third party services for similar notifications. This is an easy way to reward those loyal fans and provide an external trigger to bring them back to a CBS/Paramount product.

Events Page Ceremonies

The Big Brother community has maintained a reputation of being highly detail-oriented and obsessively engaged in the "game" of Big Brother. By embracing the competitive elements of the show, CBS/Paramount could retain the attention of the 75% of subscribers who rely on third party websites for information about stats and events each season.

The simplified presentation of house events and individual achievements provides an innovative experience that makes the competitive side of the show easier to digest.

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Usability Tests

When conducting usability tests, fully up-to-date content was used to create an experience that would reflect reality. This helped to give participants the illusion that the product they were testing functioned exactly as their own mental model.

Five actual Paramount + subscribers were tested to produce the best possible results.


  • Two participants did not understand what the numbers on the Stats page represented.

  • One participant did not understand the function of the notification toggle switches.

  • Participants were unable to navigate to player profile pages from their home screen pictures.

Most errors were the result of ambiguous design choices such as the use of numbers without labels.


  • Participants understood and enjoyed the push notifications when the live feeds came back on.

  • Two participants expressed concern that they would receive too many notifications

Negative Quotes

  • “I don’t understand what the numbers mean here.”

  • “House Events doesn’t imply that I will see a Twitter feed.”

  • “It would be nice if evicted houseguests were differentiated from active houseguests.”

Positive Quotes

  • “The notifications are really great. They would be a useful addition to my other BB resources.”

  • “There is a lot of added value from the additional information on the app.”

“I would download this immediately!”

Preference Tests

I had hoped to obtain actionable insights to inform the visual elements of the design by distributing preference tests with new iterations of key screens. Unfortunately, neither test yielded statistically significant results. However, the comments left by participants were insightful as to which elements were doing their job and which were not.

Player Stats Preference Test
High Fidelity Mockups

Taking further action upon the insights gathered in the usability tests led to giving users more freedom over notification settings and making adjustments to the UX language used to clarify areas of confusion. 

The biggest decision made at the end of testing was to incorporate existing Paramount + design elements to create a consistent brand for the end product.

This also led to a final name selection for the app, "Big Brother +", which would give users a sense of familiarity when interacting with the product for the first time.

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Player Stats
Next Steps

This Year

Fully Incorporate Paramount + Design

As an independent designer, I do not have access to Peak Sans font and other Paramount + UI elements. This would be an easy task for the existing design team to take on.

1 Year

Expand Live Feed coverage to Big Brother Canada.

The recent addition of Big Brother Canada to Paramount + is the perfect excuse to carry their live feeds. Integrating "BB Can" content into the Big Brother + app would also provide three more months of engagement from subscribers.

5 Years

Integrate community content and products.

The podcast networks, Chrome extensions, independent websites, and various social media accounts devoted to improving the Big Brother live feed experience should be embraced. It not only shows dedication to the community, but their products and content were frequently praised in user research.


If Big Brother + were to be built today, the most important element to build would be the live feed status indicator. This core feature is what led to the overall success of the app when testing. The good news is that the necessary code to run such a feature already exists in the world. I did extensive research on the Twitter bot "Feeds Bot" to ensure that the product is not only technologically feasible, but can be run for less than $50 a month. The predicted impact of this single feature is that 93% of subscribers would be relying on a CBS/Paramount app to bring them their Big Brother-related information instead of a fan-made bot that provides no value to the company.

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