Australian Survivor, Survivor NZ, and Survivor South Africa were recently added to Paramount+, ViacomCBS’s streaming service.
That gave American Survivor fans their first chance to legally watch six seasons, including the first three modern seasons of Australian Survivor, which has been acclaimed and heralded by some fans who argue that it’s better than the CBS version.
Now they’re all gone from Paramount Plus, less than four weeks later.
On January 19, Paramount+ added:
- Australian Survivor, seasons 1, 2, and 3
- Survivor New Zealand, season 1
- Survivor South Africa, seasons 6 and 7
Yesterday, Feb. 14, they were gone. The pages for the three shows are still indexed in search engines, but now return a 404 error page that says “Sorry to interrupt your programming……but the page you’re looking for doesn’t exist.”
Those season were also available via Amazon, and are now missing from that service, too.
The season currently airing in Australia, Australian Survivor: Blood V Water, which features Sandra Diaz-Twine and her daughter, has never been available on Paramount+.
However, American Survivor fans—including me!—were excited when host Jonathan LaPaglia tweeted that in late January that it’d be on Paramount+, but apparently meant just in Australia.
What happened to Paramount+’s international Survivor seasons?
Today, when someone tweeted to Paramount+’s Twitter help account about the absence of these three seasons, it replied, in part:
We’re sorry we don’t currently offer Survivor AU, Survivor New Zealand, and Survivor South Africa as part of Paramount+ due to streaming rights. Please check back often, as we’re always working to make even more available to you.
That’s a completely bizarre response, because just 22 days ago, the official Paramount+ account tweeted pictures for all three shows with the season’s logo and the Paramount+ logo, and this message:
“Need another reason to binge @survivorcbs? Catch previous seasons of Survivor Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa now streaming on #ParamountPlus.”
CBS’s Survivor Twitter account also promoted Australian Survivor on Paramount+.
(While ViacomCBS owns CBS, Paramount+, and Network 10 in Australia, the Survivor format is owned and licensed by Banijay.)
On Reddit, someone posted a note they said they received from Paramount+ support, which said, in part:
Due to licensing restrictions, Paramount+ only retains rights to episodes of Australian Survivor within the season that is currently airing. Once a new season of this show begins, our rights to the previous season expires, and those episodes are removed. We’re always working to expand our content to make more seasons and episodes available.
Australian Survivor: Blood V Water began airing in Australia on Jan. 31, which means that, if that is accurate, Paramount+ would have had the rights for just 12 days.
The rights and availability for various shows on different streaming services is a complete mess from a viewer’s point of view, especially for library content, and especially with Paramount+, as I explored in this piece about why The Challenge seasons are missing.
In other words, things do change. For example, last summer, the first 29 seasons of CBS’s Survivor were removed from Paramount+ for Canadian viewers, but remain available for people in the United States.
But acquiring and paying for the international rights to stream six seasons of three different international for just three weeks—or streaming three seasons for 12 days?!—makes absolutely no sense. And I have to think that, if that was the original plan, Paramount+ would have advertised it as such: for a limited time only!
This seems like either an error, a bizarre decision, and/or a colossal fuck-up—which would all be in line with what we expect from Paramount+, a streaming service that launched without a watch list and doesn’t even stream its namesake network’s biggest show.
Update: A Paramount+ representative told me that the removal is indeed because of “rights issues.” That means it’s not a technical glitch, as some people were told when they contacted Paramount+.
I’ve sent follow-up questions, but at the moment, I don’t know what that means: Did Paramount+ think it had the rights, and then discover it did not? Did it lose the rights for some reason? Is this a legal matter that’ll be sorted out and the episodes will return?
Whatever happened, having six seasons of a three international franchises of a hit show arrive and then disappear without notice certainly does not build trust or loyalty in a subscription service. It may be the biggest unforced error of the streaming era.