Survivor ratings drop but debut wins its hour; rehearsal footage shows challenge cameras

The first-ever two-hour debut of Survivor was watched by 13 million people, a drop of more than two million viewers since last fall’s Survivor China debut, which was watched by 15.1 million. Survivor Gabon‘s debut is just slightly down from the 13.69 million who watched Survivor Micronesia‘s first episode last spring.

Still, it “placed first in viewers, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54″ at 8 p.m. and kept up its streak of winning the 8 p.m. hour every week it has aired since 2002, according to CBS. Although it faced tough competition in The Office and Grey’s Anatomy at 9, it kept nearly all its viewers (13.19 versus 13.06) and all of its viewers ages 18 to 49. The Hollywood Reporter calls that “impressive” because it “held its entire demo rating through its second hour.”

Speaking of the first episode, I stumbled across TV Guide’s preview of the season from earlier this month. Its last segment included footage from the challenge rehearsal–which was the Dream Team versus the media–and the filming of the real challenge. After Parvati Shallow pretends to be a host instead of an awkward cue card reader and introduces the segment, challenge producer John Kirhoffer describes the first immunity challenge, Temptation Valley, and footage of the rehearsal illustrates what he’s talking about. In that extended segment, and in the few seconds of the footage from the real challenge, you can see the cameras and crew, and other things that weren’t visible on TV. (Watch it below.)

Since the segment includes the rehearsal, I’m actually in the video, wearing a gray shirt and orange shorts and in the first position on the yellow Kota tribe. I’d make fun of myself but there’s not much except quick moments: splashing into the water, climbing over the A-frame, and pulling my filthy ass under the fence. There’s also the one-second tail end of a pre-challenge moment with a teammate during which we both miscalculated and alternately fist-bumped and high-fived. Anyway, there will be plenty to mock in any potential appearances in Jeff Probst’s behind-the-scenes videos, which will apparently be posted during the season, and for which he interviewed members of the press several times. But for now, here’s the challenge rehearsal:

“Survivor” Continues to Rule at 8:00 PM [CBS press release]
Ratings down during first Thursday back [Hollywood Reporter]
Survivor: Gabon Preview Part 7 [YouTube]

Review: Married at First Sight

Marriage At First Sight

In an era of Tinder and Grindr, instant acceptance or dismissal of a potential partner, or instant sex with another body, Married at First Sight offers the thrill of watching strangers deal with the very basics of relationships.

Beyond the headline-grabbing premise, the series has turned out to be a stripped-down, authentic exploration of something very interesting. Read the full review.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.