Next season, Survivor will face a challenge that the show hasn’t seen before, as Fox will air its two biggest non-American Idol reality shows against it. Moment of Truth will face off against Survivor Gabon in the fall and Hell’s Kitchen will air opposite season 18 of the CBS reality series next spring.
The Hollywood Reporter’s James Hibberd reports that “Fox is gunning to finally take down CBS’ ‘Survivor.’ Fox has lined up its second and third-highest rated reality shows to air head-to-head against CBS’ veteran hit.” While “‘Survivor’ has owned its Thursdays at 8 p.m. time period the last couple years,” and networks “keep their more significant reality shows out of its way,” “Thursdays command the highest ad rates” and “Fox routinely comes in fourth place on the richest night of the week.”
Fox executive Peter Liguori told the paper, “Look, it’s eroding! It’s an older show. Its eventually going to give up and were trying to accelerate that.” The network was encouraged to try it because when Survivor aired on Wednesday night, Moment of Truth aired opposite it and won.
I may just be hoping against the downfall of Western civilization, but I can’t imagine Moment of Truth will be successful in unseating CBS’ marquee reality series. For one, it doesn’t have anywhere near the shelf life of Survivor. The show mostly wastes time, and ends right at the most interesting part: when the contestants face consequences for their revelations. While it started strong with 23.2 million viewers, that episode had American Idol as a lead-in, and it lost viewers as its season went on.
By the time Moment of Truth’s season ended, 10.162 million viewers were watching, a huge drop, while Survivor Micronesia had 12.870 million viewers that same week, according to TV by the Numbers. As of May 11, Survivor Micronesia had a season-to-date average of 14,280,000 viewers, while Moment of Truth had 14,172,000, according to TV by the Numbers. That’s not a huge lead for CBS, but it’s still a lead.
I think the bigger problem is Hell’s Kitchen, which will air against Survivor 18 next spring. The two shows couldn’t be more different, of course. One involves strategy and requires some mental engagement on the part of viewers, while the other is basically an excuse to watch man yell at and insult a bunch of incompetent adults for an hour every week. Survivor tends to pull weaker numbers in the spring, and Hell’s Kitchen was watched by 14.01 million people last Tuesday, although it had American Idol as a lead-in, which it won’t on Thursday nights.
The biggest question of all, though, may be whether or not this even matters. Those people with DVRs who want to watch both shows will just record both shows; others may watch one of the two online instead of on TV. For those of us who do watch TV in these newfangled ways, this show vs. show mentality is largely irrelevant, and seems to reflect old thinking about the way people consume television. The scheduling showdown may have an impact because not everyone records shows or watches online, but it seems pretty archaic to assume that scheduling one show against another means that everyone will just abandon one show for the other.