Friday, August 5, 2022

TV ratings for Survivor South Africa Return of the Outcasts plummet 43% after M-Net's earlier and daily timeslot move.

by Thinus Ferreira

The viewership of Survivor South Africa has plummeted, losing 43% of its total viewers with the debut of the latest 9th season, entitled Survivor South Africa: Return of the Outcasts, after M-Net shunted the show to a much earlier timeslot and stacked the schedule with daily episodes making it more difficult for viewers to keep up.

DStv subscribers didn't return for Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts, produced by Afrokaans for M-Net (DStv 101), with the debut episode of the latest season - again filmed earlier this year in the Eastern Cape - shedding close to half of the audience who still watched and followed the previous season.

Only 43 306 viewers tuned in for the start of Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts linear broadcast on 18 July in M-Net's 18:00 timeslot on DStv channel 101, compared to 75 770 DStv subscribers who watched the start of the previous season, according to viewership data compiled and provided by the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRCSA). 

That's a loss of 42.8% in viewers for Survivor SA and M-Net this year, compared to the beginning of June a year ago.

Whereas the 8th season had one weekly episode screened at 19:30 in primetime on M-Net with a social media hashtag that trended for hours into the night, audience engagement for the new 9th season with episodes now earlier and daily at 18:00, appears ephemeral with much less social media buzz and a lot fewer DStv subscribers sticking around to watch.

Following its much lower debut in the ratings, subsequent Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts episodes all slumped even further in the TV ratings race, with M-Net stacking four episodes per week in the 18:00-timeslot.

The earlier timeslot, as well as multiple weekly episodes for a show where viewers like to discuss the players' strategy and decisions for days on end, have made it difficult for DStv subscribers to keep up, or for viewers to return who have missed an episode due to Eskom electricy blackouts or family responsibilities and haven't yet watched a particular to see who got voted out before another one arrives.

The instant digital piracy of pristine, high-definition episodes, made available online as direct downloads and as torrents which popped up on the internet this season faster than ever before, is very likely also taking a bite out of M-Net and the show's linear TV ratings.

Nadine Moonsamy, M-Net publicity manager, in response to a media query about the Survivor SA ratings loss, told TVwithThinus that the 18:00-timeslot "affects absolute viewer numbers and our DStv Catch up service augments our viewer numbers, both of which are taken into consideration when scheduling".

M-Net didn't respond to questions as to why the Survivor SA frequency of episodes per week was changed or whether the show's much lower ratings will have an impact on whether the local version of the Banijay reality competition format is renewed for a next 10th season.