“Biggest Loser’s” Ratings Drop: Too Many Changes

Have you been watching the new season of "The Biggest Loser?"  Apparently no one else is either.  The show's ratings have dropped 13% to just 5.6 million viewers, pretty low for NBC standards. I talked with the producer last year (when I wrote for AOL) and he said they were specifically changing the show to place more emphasis on the emotional transformations that the contestants go through over the physical changes.  This means less time shown in the gym and more screen time of contestants under a tree, confessing to the camera about the agita of the day. There has been a lot of upheaval with the trainers too.  While Bob Harper has been part of every single "Biggest Loser" season since its inception, Jillian Michaels' bowing out last season (for the 2nd time overall) and the one-and-done appearance of two new trainers who came on board (Brett Hoebel and Cara Castronuova, both of whom didn't get their contracts renewed) hasn't helped as viewers usually crave consistency.  With the start of season 12, the audience is now deciding if  Anna Kournikova, known more for her modeling than tennis skills, and unknown Atlanta trainer Dolvett Quince are worth watching. Honestly, I've watched every season.  I have had major problems with the trainers over the years and think they are sometimes training unsafely.  I've questioned their knowledge base and railed at the producers for not picking trainers with higher qualifications, but I always wind up hooked anyway because there is so much heart and guts coming from the contestants.  Their struggles to change their own lives (and often those of their family members) always gets me and I always celebrate their successes.  It's darned inspiring. But even I can't bring myself to watch the show this year.  I've got all three episodes clogging my DVR and every time I think about the two-hour time suck, I just can't do it.  I'd rather clean the kitchen or do laundry.  I'm not the only one either;  SkinnyEmmie, another long-time fan of the show, has given up too. So will the network and producers be able to pull the show back from the brink?  Will they bribe Jillian with a huge paycheck to come back for a third time?  Will they finally hire a trainer with a background in something like exercise physiology or kinesiology?  Will they just pull the plug and come up with some other reality-based show that they can push down our throats? What do you think? Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.


13 Responses to “Biggest Loser’s” Ratings Drop: Too Many Changes

  1. Robin October 5, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Thanks for the update! I have been a huge fan of Biggest Loser for years now. As a trainer, I love watching the transformations and feel so inspired by the contestants. For whatever reason, this is the first season I haven’t felt interested! I agree that the trainers play a huge role in the show. I’m not a fan of Anna since she is not a trainer. There is a big difference in a trainer and an athlete. The two aren’t interchangeable. We’ll see if I keep watching, but I appreciate the update on the ratings and the changes to the show!

  2. Lisa Johnson October 5, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    Thanks Robin, I pretty much agree with you 100%, although I still haven’t watched the shows … ~ LJ

  3. Sonia Simone October 6, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    I’ve been watching. Anna isn’t as bad as you think she’ll be, but she’s not a trainer and it shows. Dolvett is actually not bad, he reminds me a lot of Brett — more thoughtful and more like someone you would actually want to train with.

    Bob is insane per usual. Without Jillian there to be the mean one, he’s in evil overdrive. They should have kept Brett and added Dolvett, except I suppose they want a hot girl in there.

    Lot of heart in the contestants, which is what makes it great. This is pretty much the only TV I watch other than the occasional Top Gear on iTunes. I prefer Chris Powell’s show, where he works with one person for a year, and seems to refrain from abusing them, which is refreshing.

    I actively hate the lame challenges and the whole voting contestants off part — the show goes out of its way to suggest that these people will die without Biggest Loser, then it kicks them off.

  4. Lisa Johnson October 6, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    Good point Sonia about promoting how bad the contestants need the show and then booting them to the curb one by one. You can actually see the awkwardness in the video confessionals as they “see the light” just before they go home.

    I also prefer Chris Powell’s show although there’s a little manipulation there too. But I do love that they show the skin-fold surgery, it’s very real and the Biggest Loser pretends it doesn’t exist. Thanks for your comments L–

  5. Dean Ouellette October 6, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

    lisa I am watching it, but then again Cortney goes to the same crossfit gym and uses the same trainer I do, so i am interested in what she does at home. he also trained Ali both times she was home too.

    Here is a question I have for you. As you know I am a frequent reader and have mad respect for you. You talk about quality of certifications a lot. I am looking to get certified next year to work with kids and exercise.

    I am currently a real estate agent and have been for a while. There are different certifications in real estate too based on different training. What I have learned over the year is MANY of the best agents have almost no certifications and many agents with all these certifications are miserable to work with. It seems the ones most interested in certifications and speak about them are the ones with the most. How does what certification someone has determine how good they are? Cant someone with a “lesser” certification do plenty of studying on their own and really work their trade and become a stellar trainer?

    Please dont take this wrong, not being confrontational at all, I am just curious and asking. Because like I said, education level in real estate seems to have almost no correlation to actual quality of realtor.

    Gong to blogworld again this year in LA? If so hope to see you there at parties again.

  6. Lisa Johnson October 7, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Dean, I remember talking to you about this last year at BlogWorld and no I won’t be going this year. I’ll be blunt, I’m a snob about certifications but I also consider myself a damn good trainer. My first certification was the AFAA cert. It’s a weekend long class & I was “qualified” to work with people in the gym. The problem is we spent most of the weekend learning how to use fat calipers and doing some very basic fitness tests to use on clients (which I’ve NEVER used.) I walk out terrified and didn’t feel completely ready to train anyone. I instead practice on my friends and took a bunch more weekend “certs” and read and read and read …

    With Pilates they don’t mess around. It’s a 500 hour certification you have to know anatomy, not just cursory knowledge but indepth. For instance you don’t need to say “quadriceps” to pass an anatomy test you need to know all four of ’em. A strong, strong base in anatomy means you can diagnose any movement and correct the form on it. You also need to know point of origin and point of insertion. Then you have to learn over 500 exercises, pretty much memorize and know how to do client programming, work around injuries (everyone’s got an injury somewhere) and how to keep progressing clients. Do you think you can learn that in 14 hours of class time? You simply can’t. Can you learn it on your own, maybe but you have to make sure your sources are good.

    If a real estate agent screws up, he loses a sale or winds up with a construction issue that can be fixed. If a personal trainer screws up he hurts someone, to me the bar is higher so the education should be higher. I like the ACSM training but I’ve been told by the gym trainers that it’s too stodgy, they seem to prefer NSCA certifications, there is the CSCS training which is a good one too.

    As far as hiring goes, you’ll have a lot more credibility with a CSCS, you can walk into any top gym and get a job, AFAA will get you a crappy job for crappy pay at a head shop gym somewhere. And at the beginning, you won’t have any experience to show a potential employer.

    Just my thoughts,


  7. Dean Ouellette October 7, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    Lisa thanks, that helps a lot now I have some good certs to look at.

    I think I am just tainted by what I see in my industry. I complain about designations, but at the same time I also say one of the biggest issues with my industry is anyone with $800 and the brain power of my 6-year old can go get a real estate license. And I think what I see in my side those really dont get it and dont seem to have any real common sense end up trying to overcompensate by getting more designations instead of getting with a good agent as a mentor/trainer and really learning the business and then end making it harder for the rest of us.

    Thanks for writing back.

    And on the original topic I am not nearly as big of a fan this year as I have been in the past, past two years really… but at the same time my kids and my wife still love it. They like the more stories and more talking.

  8. Lisa Johnson October 7, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    Dean in the fitness industry it’s anyone with the brain of a 6 year old and $249. An even lower bar. That said, the strong trainers always, always stand out, the weak ones fade away … (unless you have a juggernaut like NBC behind you with their marketing department …) Glad your family is still enjoying the show. L–

  9. Kime Foster October 12, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    I have been watching, though very distractedly. The changes irritate me. First of all, deciding the third finalist by a marathon is totally unfair. Who wins marathons-MEN. They started out with 8 men and 7 women. Do they reallly think women are that stupid? I guess that’s why in the first 4 weeks, 3 men have been voted off and one women. The age divisions in the teams is also unfair. I will still watch because I love the people aspect of it, but I prefer the gym scenes to the heartwrenching confessions. I do like the new trainers, it’s a difficult task trying to replace a seated star.

  10. Lisa Johnson October 12, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    Thanks for your thoughts Kime, :-) L–

  11. Michael E. Williams November 1, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    I agree that it is time to cut the cord on The Biggest Loser. I have been turned off by all the things you mentioned but also by the way each episode seems to have a “shake up”. I mean, how many times are they going to split, divide and subdivide the teams? How many different color shirts are they each going to have to wear and who will what team be training with this week? Too many changes intra-eposide for my tastes. They havent spent enough time with the trainers and fellow teammates to really bond..except for those two who have a “showmance” going on.

    One other thing that particularly annoys me is the blonde “trainer” Anna WhatsherName. She has the personality of a wet paper bag. Just boring and no emotion..or is that just how all Russians act?

    Yes, this show is dead and they need to cut the cord. Bob Harper needs to jump ship and bow out gracefully at the end of this season.

  12. Lisa Johnson November 2, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    Michael I think they’re doing all the shakeups so Bob’s contestants don’t sweep … like what happened last season and Brett & Cara wound up with nothing … thanks for sharing your thoughts L–

  13. joyce coley December 20, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    too many changes several seasons ago. the year 2 more trainers were brought in,so much B.S. a show that wasn’t broke was fixed. We stopped watching a few episodes into that season and haven’ watched since. we had always watched from episode 1 until the finish but the changes were a bad call and didn’t benefit anyone that much. It was a great show until then and hasn’t been the same since. .

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