PBS’ “Big Blue Live” billed as “one of nature’s great reality shows”

Jeff Pfeiffer

PBS has aired live events before, usually of the performing arts or concert variety. But the three-part live event Big Blue Live is unique for the network. A co-production with the BBC, the miniseries brings together scientists, filmmakers and photographers, animal behaviorists and other experts for two weeks to document the rejuvenation of the once endangered, but now thriving, ecosystem of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in California. Creatures as varied as humpback whales (like the one pictured below), blue whales, sea lions, dolphins, elephant seals, sea otters, great white sharks and more converge in a once-a-year confluence in late August/early September, and this series captures that through live reports from air, sea and below the water. It’s being billed as “one of nature’s great reality shows,” and with probably more charismatic participants than the average reality show, on top of it.


More from PBS:

“For three nights, starting August 31, PBS airs BIG BLUE LIVE, its first live nature program centering on the extraordinary annual confluence of marine life in and around Monterey Bay, California.  Concurrently, the series is inspiring the largest and most diverse digital and social engagement integration in PBS history and one of the largest ever for a natural history program. Elements include a robust multimedia presence on numerous social and digital platforms, additional as-it-happens content on pbs.org/bigbluelive, and integration of social and digital elements into the three-night live broadcast.

“The immersive viewer experience is intended to make the show exciting and engaging for audiences of all ages and to spur family-centered viewing. In addition to watching the PBS broadcast at 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET and PT, viewers also have the option to enjoy the series in a multitude of ways:

A live simulcast of BIG BLUE LIVE will air at PBS.org/BigBlueLive, where viewers will have a chance to interact with a variety of live marine wildlife camera feeds throughout Monterey Bay.

The site will also serve as a social hub, helping the audience discover, explore and join the national conversation about the creatures and conservation effort, including perspectives from the local communities of PBS member stations.

Photographs, videos, animated GIFs and live streams via Periscope will fuel social media integration of BIG BLUE LIVE with PBS, BBC, Monterey Bay Aquarium and NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

Viewers of the three nights of live broadcasts will be exposed to an interactive experience on social media, online and on-air that includes live polls, real-time Q&As and caption contests, among other surprises that could unlock exclusive content.

Co-hosts Dr. M Sanjayan (@msanjayan) and Liz Bonnin (@lizbonnin) will live-tweet and engage with audiences by responding to questions and comments throughout the broadcast.”

Big Blue Live airs Aug. 31-Sept. 2 on PBS, live at 8pm ET and 8pm PT.


Photo courtesy of Bertie Gregory


  1. I was unable to watch Big Blue Live and would like to know if you will be airing it again, If so, do you know when.

    • I also missed the second and third episodes, and unlike others who were so bored that they could not tolerate it, found it to be absolutely fascinating.
      I hope it is repeated…looking for a reply to when

  2. Glad to see I am not the only one that found “Big Blue Live” un-watchable. I also tried to watch and could not stand the two co-host talking heads. On top of which in AZ it was not live at airing time. “one of nature’s great reality shows” maybe the problem. Reality shows suck! They are not real, just manufactured hype and conflict. Instead of three one hour nights of “live” broadcast; take the great footage of the animals, do a proper edit and get someone good to narrate it and you might have something really good to watch.

    Very disappointed,
    Eric Bogan

  3. For many years I have delighted in nature’s wonders as seen on PBS. So, of course, I tuned into ‘Big Blue.’ I watched for twenty minutes. In general, what I saw were two talking heads playing hopscotch on maps or gabbling on about animals barely seen. The ocean traffic report by the helicopter pilot…”the whales must be deep,” was another non-starter. How many times will the audience be told the Pacific ocean is big?
    Sorry, but this production is for teens who want the excitement of manufactured live feeds and need to get a life.
    David Attenborough come home. Sincerely, Judith Witmer

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