‘Survivor: Philippines’: Jeff Probst explains returning players strategy

With “Survivor” being currently in the offseason — and with us still being several weeks away from the official announcement of the upcoming season set in the Philippines — it does appear as though this is the perfect opportunity for us to talk about one of the most controversial topics when it comes to the reality franchise.

First things first, we learned something rather interesting about the show — according to Reality Blurred, Jeff Probst is now the primary showrunner and is responsible for overseeing many of those decisions. One of these? Casting returning players on a show that once avoided them with the exception of a few seasons here and there. We don’t know if he is using the lower ratings from the recent “One World” season as evidence, but he did strongly insinuate to the blog’s Andy Denhart that seeing past contestants come back is going to be something we see more of moving forward:

“There’s no right or wrong, but Mark [Burnett] and I both feel really strongly that our fans like their stars. Especially for a show that’s long in the tooth, here’s an anchor: Fourteen new people and Rob, and Coach—Rob and Russell that season. It’s a little bit of a hook. It’s like a guest star. Our only situation is that, you use those up, you have to create new ones.”

So is Jeff right? Both yes and no — it’s clear that casual fans do like seeing returning players as suggested in the ratings, but we do have to issue the argument of competitive balance here. The past two seasons that have contained returning players have each seen one of them make it to the final three — and if Coach had just gotten a couple more votes, we would be looking at two returnee winners despite them being on a cast built up of largely newbies. There has to be a way to even the competitive balance, and if that happens it will not be as much of a problem.

While it has not been confirmed just yet, rumors strongly suggest that Mike Skupin (“Australia”), Russell Swan (“Samoa”), and Jonathan Penner (“Cook Islands”) are going to be the three returning players for “Survivor: Philippines.”

Where do you weigh in on this debate? If you want to find out when the new season is going to premiere, be sure to head over to this link.

Photo: CBS

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