In it's 19th season, Survivor
is one of the longest running shows on television. It is certainly one of the longest running reality television shows. But the popularity of Survivor is fading. Survivor was once the most talked about show on television. Every week millions of viewers tuned in to see how the contestants would survive with each other on an island for thirty days and which one of them would be voted off the island. It was real drama TV. These days many people have forgotten about Survivor. You realize that the show is still on when you see it while flipping through channels on Thursday night. With Survivor not as relevant as it once was, one has to wonder if it's still a great show.
If you want to go by ratings, then Survivor is no longer a great show. Last week over 14 million viewers watched the show, which is still very impressive. But those numbers can't match or even top American Idol's
ratings which has an average of over 25 million viewers tuning in every week. American Idol holds the throne as the King of Reality TV. A throne once held by Survivor. In it's first two seasons, Survivor was one of the top two shows on television. It averaged over 28 million viewers in those two seasons. That's double the viewership it averages now. In it's first season alone, over 50 million people watched the season finale. Only the Super Bowl averages ratings like that. Since 2005, Survivor's ratings have been declining. It had it's lowest viewership last season. Why has ratings for the show declined so much?
There are many reasons why Survivor has had declining ratings the last few years. One of the reasons could be that the show isn't entertaining as it once was. The show used to be a compelling show to watch because it was different from other reality shows. It featured sixteen people on an island trying to survive with little food and energy and competing in strenuous challenges to avoid being sent home. The winner would then eventually win a million dollars. This format would produce exciting television. In it's first season (the best season), contestants like Richard Hatch schemed and plotted to win his way to a million dollars. He formed an alliance with some of the other contestants to do his dirty work.
He even walked around naked to imply that he could do anything he wanted, anytime he wanted. There were betrayals and verbal attacks, like the one seen in the Season One finale when Sue Hawk called Kelly Wiglesworth a rat at the final tribal council. Sue also told Kelly she wouldn't give her a sip of water if she was dying of thirst in the desert. It was great to watch back then. Seeing betrayal, backstabbing, immunity challenges, and tribal councils every season after that made the show less entertaining. It became repetitive and boring. Everything on the show lost it's originality and it became just another reality show. This could be why viewers have abandoned the show and tune into much entertaining programs.
The shock value of the show is also gone. Survivor came onto television with other reality shows like Fear Factor
and Big Brother
which were aimed to stun and surprise viewers. These shows made contestants eat rats, live in a house with hidden cameras, and perform daredevil stunts. None of this is surprising anymore as most reality shows have copycat these things. And after VH1 had reality shows featuring women wanting to date Flavor Flav
, there's nothing that can shock viewers more than that. Survivor can't do anything that will stun an audience these days.
Survivor has also fallen victim to shows that focus on dating and talent. Dating and talent shows are the most popular shows on television now. Viewers would prefer watching these kinds of shows, than people on an island eating coconuts for a million dollars. Reality shows like American Idol, The Bachelor, and Dancing With The Stars
are a must watch.
If you want to go by forums, websites, and loyal fans, Survivor is still a great show. Despite its declining ratings, its loyal fans continue to watch. And when they're not watching, they're discussing this week's episode on message boards. So, even though Survivor is no longer a great show, it still maintains a loyal fan base and stable ratings. It's still good enough to watch... for now.
Click the pics for Survivor: Tocantins gallery:
Do you think Survivor is still a great show?
Story by Maccorley Mathieu
Starpulse contributing writer