When the ratings came up this afternoon, we were left with a troubling sight as someone who has spent over ten years watching “Survivor“: A 2.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic. Excluding recap episodes, this is the lowest rating ever for a hour of the reality competition show. (Update: It was adjusted up to a 2.4 in the finals, which is slightly better.)
So why in the world is this happening? By most accounts, this is actually a pretty good season of the show; there are blindsides, good characters, and even a twist that has worked out surprisingly well despite some initial concerns. While there was criticism over casting Colton Cumbie, he’s not a part of the show anymore and was made out to look pretty awful.
So what is the real reason that interest is waning? Is this just a symptom of CBS’ schedule? You could say so, given that the majority of the programming this year is down pretty significantly from the year before, especially when you look at such shows like “NCIS,” most of the comedy block on Monday nights, and another reality competition show in “The Amazing Race.” You can argue that last night, the show aired against the World Series, but that has been also done many times before.
But is it more that the feeling that was first behind “Survivor” is starting to go away? Not to claim clairvoyance, but we had a thought last night about the ratings when watching Tyson give some confessionals about trying to get rid of Aras. While he was making great, strategic moves, it almost was not as exciting as we wanted it to be. Why was that? It may just be because we were watching someone who has played three times start to figure things out, and the returning players dominated the airtime. Traditionally when you have a season dominated with returning players, you have one with a big new-player presence. That hasn’t happened in a while. It has been three straight seasons now without an all-new cast, which is the longest we have gone in the history of the show. Even though “Survivor: Philippines” didn’t have a tribe full of former players, it still had them, and when you consider the family members this year, it is like getting the same returning players twice. Tyson may be one of our favorite all-time players, but there’s nothing that shocking about him starting to figure out the game the third time in, and the same thing goes for someone like Tina Wesson, who has already won this game.
Returning player seasons are fun in that it gives you a chance to see some of your favorites again. However, you have to mix it up at times with seasons of newbies to keep things fresh. This is why while neither “Survivor: Nicaragua” or “Survivor: One World” were great seasons, they were necessary to bring in some new blood, and to have a mixture of good and bad players along with unpredictability. You already know who the power players are potentially on this season, and you did before it even started. Sure, there are surprises, but was there ever any doubt that Aras, Vytas, and Tyson would still be in the game at this point?
Why do you think that the “Survivor” ratings are down? We want to hear what you think in the poll below! Meanwhile, click here if you want to see everything from reviews to analysis, and we will have an exclusive interview up there with Brad Culpepper a little later in the day.