JOHANNESBURG — South African viewers loved the American editions of “Survivor,” which regularly drew auds of 1.5 million-2 million for pubcaster channel SABC3.
The same can’t be said for localized version “Survivor South Africa: Panama,” a co-production by paybox M-Net and Endemol SA.
It bowed to auds of 1.3 million viewers on Sept. 3, a record for M-Net, beating the 1.2 million notched up by the paybox’s “Idols South Africa” and “Big Brother South Africa.”
But the numbers have been dropping ever since, to around 1 million of late.
It seems viewers are turned off by the 14 contestants, all beautiful, successful urban professionals — including an unusually high number of models.
Endemol and M-Net had tubthumped the selection process and viewers expected more “normal” South Africans to appear.
“We’re not worried at all,” says M-Net’s head of local productions, Carl Fischer. “We didn’t expect to beat the figure for the ‘Idols’ final with the first episode. The drop in the number of viewers is normal and, because it is reality TV, at times it is more exhilarating than others.”