CBS announced its 2023-2024 primetime schedule this morning, including revealing that two of its reality TV competitions, Survivor 45 and The Amazing Race 35, will each have considerably expanded seasons.
Instead of the usual one-hour episodes, both shows will air 90-minute episodes for the entirety of the season, with Survivor 45 at 8 p.m. ET and Amazing Race 35 at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Why we’re getting more reality TV
While longer 90-minute and two-hour episodes often give us more character development, we’ve also never had an entire Survivor season of 90-minute episodes.
I am a little worried that the time will be filled with more of the nonsense that has plagued recent seasons, like ludicrous twists and the producers playing the game for the contestants.
Likewise, I love The Amazing Race, which has been reinvigorated these past few pandemic years, but sometimes hour-long episodes feel, well, long. The same thing is true of other competitions, from Drag Race to Project Runway.
Basically: 90 minutes is fantastic when there’s enough meaningful story to fill 90 minutes, but that’s not always the case.
Inside Survivor first reported that Survivor was exploring 90-minute episodes, which I suspected was related to the looming negotiations between the WGA and AMPTP.
The Writers Guild went on strike last week, and scripted productions are shutting down or being delayed.
By expanding both Amazing Race and Survivor by a half hour each, CBS effectively loses one hour on it schedule that it would normally need to fill with a scripted drama.
Currently, Survivor is followed by two hours of scripted drama: FBI and the just-cancelled True Lies.
That said, the rest of CBS’s fall schedule is mostly all dramas and comedies, except news programs 48 Hours and 60 Minutes, and that means the schedule is more wishful thinking than reality at this point.
With the considerable differences between the WGA and AMPTP’s positions, and no talk of resuming negotiations, it seems likely the strike will go on for some time.
But for now, CBS has Survivor 45 (which started filming last month) and Amazing Race 35 (which filmed last fall) as guaranteed to fill an entire prime-time evening.