Are lazy people to blame for Survivor’s lowest-rated premiere ever? Or is CBS?

The returning, alleged “favorites” on Survivor Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorites didn’t draw people back to the series: the show had its lowest-rated premiere ever last night.

It was crushed by American Idol‘s shitty beginning of its second (we need two, really?) Hollywood week. Fox had 13.37 million viewers over two hours and a 4.3 rating among people 18 to 49; CBS had 8.96 million viewers and a 2.4 rating over 90 minutes. Jeff Probst hated One World last spring but it had a 3.1 rating.

Why are the ratings cratering? EW’s James Hibberd has an interesting theory: “in this era where DVRs are being used in 47 percent of households, CBS changes the title of Survivor for every edition.” He suggests that having to set a new seasons pass is “a step that DVR users don’t have to take for pretty much ever other returning show on the air, so it’s easy to forget.” Hibberd adds, “automatic renewal systems are effective, and that’s essentially what a DVR season pass is.”

That’s an excellent point, especially since almost half of households now have DVRs, and it is annoying to have to re-set the DVR every season. Also, it’s impossibly easy for CBS to call the show just Survivor in the official listings.

But are people really that lazy? If this theory is true, I think the bigger problem is that it illustrates that there is a disconnected audience, one that doesn’t realize the show is starting up again and doesn’t care enough to watch live. Whether that’s because the marketing and advertising isn’t sufficient or because people don’t care, that seems to be a bigger problem than forgetting to set one’s DVR.

Overnight ratings include those who watch live or on their DVR that same day. But it’ll be interesting to see if the ratings that include DVR usage over three and seven days (live +3, live +7) show that people did DVR after all, they just didn’t watch last night.

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.