CBS officially orders Survivor 19 and 20; Jeff Probst has “no idea” if he’d stay past season 20

In the most unsurprising news of the week, CBS has renewed Survivor for two more seasons, its 19th and 20th. Those will tape this summer and fall and air next fall and spring, as usual.

CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler said in the network’s announcement, “Survivor is one of CBS’s signature series and symbol of enduring quality and entertainment on prime time television. Every season delivers a fresh new adventure for viewers and a time period-winning performance on the network. We’re excited to deliver audiences two more editions of outstanding production values, exotic scenery, new castaways and, of course, our Emmy Award-winning host.”

CBS notes that the show has “continued its ratings dominance” in its Thursdays at 8 timeslot. Remember when CBS decided to move Survivor to Thursdays opposite Friends, and how absurd that decision seemed? At least until Survivor started winning?

Emmy-winning host Jeff Probst is signed through season 20, but not past that. When we talked last fall in Brazil, I asked him about going past season 20, and he said, “Honestly, I have no idea. We’ve gone so much further than I ever thought we would go, and it seems like, with our ratings, that we’ll probably get renewed for 19 and 20. That will be 10 years of Survivor; that’s a long time. I don’t know. I think about it all the time, I wonder if I’m bringing anything to the show, or if I’m becoming–do you need somebody new? Can you do this too long to where you lose perspective and you’re not contributing enough? I don’t know; I’m still enjoying it,” he said.

With these consistent ratings, though, it seems next to impossible that CBS would pull the plug; it seems more likely that Probst or executive producer Mark Burnett would say no first.

“I don’t know what I’d do if we finished 20 and they said, ‘We want to do more. I honestly have no idea.’ I just don’t know. I learned from the last time I wasn’t sure that when you’re not certain, you’re better off to say nothing because you commit to one way or the other,” Probst told me. “I kind of thought I was done last time; that was season 12. Little did I know we were barely halfway through where we were going to go.”

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.