“Survivor,” the reality TV show that sets up groups of strangers to compete in remote locations, is being renewed for its 29th and 30th seasons.
That makes it the longest-running reality competition show in television history. It’s also one of the first-ever reality series.
Since launching “Survivor” in 2000, executive producer Mark Burnett has gone on to produce other popular competition programs, including “The Voice” and “Shark Tank.”
NPR TV critic Eric Deggans joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.
JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:
From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson. It's HERE AND NOW.
"Survivor" has just been renewed for its 29th and 30th season, which would make it the longest-running reality competition series on television. And unless you've been living on a desert island, you probably that "Survivor" teams' groups of strangers in remote locations and has to compete for a million-dollar prize. Here is a clip from this season, "Blood versus Water."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SURVIVOR: BLOOD VS WATER")
MONICA CULPEPPER: Tonight, Tyson and Gervase, they're going to be on the defense for the first time, and Monica is going to be on the offense. Because if I am their puppy dog, they better stay and correct it.
HOBSON: The usual secrets, alliances and backstabbing. Eric Deggans is NPR's TV critic. He's with us from St. Petersburg, Florida. Eric, welcome.
ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: I'm glad to be here. And I'll just want to point that my office is probably about 30 miles from where Monica lives.
DEGGANS: She's from my area and so it's difficult.
HOBSON: All right. Yeah. See, that's the thing. When you live in a beautiful, tropical climate, they actually film television shows near you. So, Eric, is this a surprise? And we should say, it's the 29th and 30th season, but they've only been on the air since 2000.
DEGGANS: Right. CBS runs "Survivor" twice in a TV season. They have a fall edition, and they have a winter/spring edition. So they kind of had doubled up in seasons. It's not a surprise because "Survivor," according to CBS, is the second most popular reality show amongst adults 18 to 49, which is the key demographic that advertisers, the TV shoots for to attract advertisers. And it's show that does really well on Wednesday nights, kicking off Wednesday at 8 o'clock. And it's hard - in that - with television to find a show that really kicks off at night and draws in a lot of people so that they'll hang out and watch the rest of the night, and "Survivor" does that.
HOBSON: You say it's the second best. Who does the best among that group?
DEGGANS: That's something I haven't done any research on.
HOBSON: Oh, OK.
DEGGANS: I would guess that it's probably at least "The Voice."
HOBSON: "The Voice." And, of course, this falls into the category of competition, reality shows. There's the "X Factor," "Amazing Race," "American Idol," "Big Brother." What though makes "Survivor" so popular? Because I remember watching it way back when, in one of the early seasons. I didn't even realize it was still on the air. But what makes it last all these years?
DEGGANS: Well, what's interesting is that when you see what reality shows, especially phenomenons(ph), like "Survivor" and "American Idol," at first, they're really huge hits. And then their audience slims down to the people who are the die-hard fans. And one of the ways that CBS has maintained a pool of die-hard fans, a big pool, is that they bring back people who've been on the show before.
You played a clip from "Blood Versus Water." The whole premise of that show is to bring in people who played the game before and also bring in their loved ones or people who are related to them or people who are connected to them and have them compete in "Survivor." So you have people that audience knows do it over and over again. And even people from other CBS reality shows come to "Survivor." And so fans of that show will also watch "Survivor."
HOBSON: Eric, how long do you think the reality competition-style TV show has left?
DEGGANS: I think it has plenty of legs. It has as much life as producers have imagination to reinvent how they do things. One of the things that's interesting about "Survivor" this year is that the ratings are up a little bit, because they came up with this great idea of not only bringing back all of these people who've been on the show before - I mean, we've seen people like Gervase Peterson and Tina Wesson, who we haven't really seen on "Survivor" since they were on the very first "Survivor" or Gervase was on the very first "Survivor" that was ever aired. So we get a chance to see him for the first time in a long time. And we also see them bounce off of their relatives and bounce off of other people's relatives. It's really reinvigorated the show.
HOBSON: Eric Deggans is NPR's TV critic, talking about "Survivor," which has been renewed for its 29th and 30th season. It's going to be the longest-running reality competition show on TV. Eric, thanks so much.
DEGGANS: Thanks for having me.
HOBSON: You're listening to HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.