Have 'Survivor: Game Changers' Ratings Stabilized After Record Low Premiere?

The Survivor: Game Changers premiere was the lowest-rated in series history, but how have the ratings fared since then?

Survivor: Game Changers debuted to 7.64 million viewers on March 8, beating previous record holder Survivor: Kaoh Rong's 8.30 million viewers for the lowest premiere ever in live ratings. Many factors could be in play for why the season debuted so low in the ratings, including the late premiere date (spring seasons typically start in February), the erosion of live TV viewership in general, the fact that this is a returning player season (and thus, more difficult to bring in new viewers), or a combination of all three.

Since the Survivor: Game Changers premiere, ratings have increased slightly. The trajectory so far this season has been as follows, according to Nielsen ratings:

Episode 1 - "The Stakes Have Been Raised" (Ciera Eastin and Tony Vlachos voted out) - 7.64 million

Episode 2 - "Survivor Jackpot" (Caleb Reynolds voted out) - 7.87 million

Episode 3 - "The Tables Have Turned" (Malcolm Freberg voted out) - 8.10 million

Episode 4 - "Dirty Deed" (J.T. Thomas voted out) - 8.26 million

Episode 5 - "Vote Early, Vote Often" (Sandra Diaz-Twine voted out) - 8.40 million

Episode 6 - "What Happens on Exile, Stays on Exile" (Jeff Varner voted out) - 8.31 million

Episode 7 - "There's a New Sheriff in Town" (Hali Ford and Ozzy Lusth voted out) - 7.92 million

As the ratings show, this season of Survivor plateaued at the fifth episode with 8.40 million. However, the ratings have started to decline again, and even the media buzz from the season's controversial sixth episode, where Jeff Varner outed Zeke Smith as transgender, did not result in any boost in ratings. No Survivor: Game Changers episode thus far has climbed over 9 million viewers, which has been the show's typical viewership for many years now.

Jeff Varner voted out of 'Survivor: Game Changers'
Jeff Varner voted out of 'Survivor: Game Changers.' [Image by Jeffrey Neira/CBS Entertainment]

Survivor: Game Changers also lost many of its major stars in the early episodes, including the three winners, Sandra, Tony, and J.T., and fan favorites like Malcolm and Caleb. The season is now comprised of many of the lesser known and less loved castaways, which may have been a factor in decreasing ratings. Now that huge fan favorite Ozzy is gone, viewership may erode even more in the weeks to come.

There's no need for Survivor fans to get too worried about the future of the show, though, considering the Nielsen ratings shows it is consistently winning its Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT time slot. Networks want more eyeballs on their shows since they then attract more advertisers, and with reality shows like Survivor being cheaper to produce than scripted shows, the long-running reality series is in a good spot. CBS also recently renewed Survivor alongside many other shows for another season.

Survivor has slowly but surely become one of the longest-running shows in television history, let alone among reality shows. Through 17 years and 34 seasons, the show has consistently evolved, with earlier seasons focusing heavily on the survival aspect and later seasons shifting towards strategy and gameplay. Many twists have come and gone (and in some cases, come back again), including Hidden Immunity Idols, Exile Island, Redemption Island and the Medallion of Power. Tribes have been divided by sex, age, race, social class, generation, fans and favorites, heroes and villains, schoolyard picks and at random. Yet, even if Survivor has continued to morph through the years, the core tenants of outwitting, outplaying, and outlasting the competition have remained the same.

Jeff Probst hosting 'Survivor: Game Changers'
Jeff Probst hosting 'Survivor: Game Changers.' [Image by CBS Entertainment]

Survivor host Jeff Probst recently spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the show's longevity, and he discussed the relationship they have with the core fanbase.

"We produce the show that these people star in and that you watch, and you tell us what you think, and we then augment what we're doing with a new group of people, and you watch that and tell us what you think. It's a triangle of creativity. It's very cool. Think about how many scripted shows have that, really? I like it. I like the feedback. I don't mind when people criticize the show. I don't mind when people hate something we did. That's important to hear. Sometimes I agree and sometimes I disagree, but it doesn't matter, as long as we're all honest. If you keep watching it, we'll keep making it."
Survivor: Game Changers airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

[Featured Image by CBS Entertainment]