Survivor changed television forever by popularizing reality television for primetime on broadcast networks. The series debuted on CBS way back in 2000, and it has run for a whopping 32 seasons to date, with multiple seasons airing per year. Host Jeff Probst has been a figure on Survivor from the very beginning, and he has high hopes for how long the show may last in the future. Here's what he had to say about how many more seasons could be in store for Survivor and its fans.
I know it sounds corny. I truly believe that true Survivor fans know that we're in this together. So getting to 40? Entirely possible. It looks like forever to get to 40 because just coming up with one theme is a gigantic hurdle. To come up with two, we always feel like we just conquered the beast. But that's the goal.
If Jeff Probst were the host of just about any primetime show other than Survivor, his hope for 40 seasons would sound pretty ridiculous. If Survivor continues at its current pace of production, 40 seasons would run for the better part of two decades, with 40 impossible locales featuring hundreds of contestants facing thousands of challenges. Most shows are lucky to hit 4-5 seasons with enough episodes for syndication, but since Survivor doesn't lend itself as well to daily repeats, it's a great trade-off to be allowed to continue for this long.
Considering that Survivor already has one full season in the can ready to air and is currently filming another on location in Fiji, 40 seasons is actually feasible. 34 are already guaranteed, and the Season 34 premiere is set to be the show's 500th episode ever. Surely CBS could keep Survivor on the schedule for another three or four years to eke out at least those last six seasons to hit the massive milestone.
Of course, Survivor doesn't draw nearly the same numbers nowadays as it did back in the early years. A big two-hour episode in Season 31 resulted in Survivor's worst numbers up to that point in its run, with only 8.1 million viewers that represented a 14% decrease from the week before. 8.1 million isn't exactly a bad number for a primetime series, but it also pales in comparison to the number of people who tuned in for the biggest episode of the first season. 125 million people tuned in for at least part of the Season 1 finale, with ads airing during the episode costing upward of six hundred thousand dollars. It was kind of a big deal, especially in an era when reality television was something new to most consumers.
It would be unreasonable to expect a show to win the same ratings in a 30th season that it did in a revolutionary first season, but those early numbers may help Survivor stay on the air to hit the 40 mark. Survivor always has the potential to be a huge hit for a given season, and the gimmicks can always affect how many people are interested enough to tune in. The theme for Season 32 this fall is Millennials vs. Gen X, so there should broad appeal across multiple age groups.
Only time will tell if Jeff Probst gets his wish and Survivor makes it to 40 seasons. In the meantime, check out our summer TV premiere schedule to see what you can watch live now.