Future of Gallic ‘Survivor’ Uncertain After Competitor Dies

Commercial web TF1 shuts down 'Koh-Lanta'

PARIS — The French adaptation of “Survivor,” “Koh-Lanta,” has been shut down by Gallic commercial net TF1 following the death of one of the 17 contestants on the first day of shooting in Cambodia.

Gerald Babin, 25, died of a heart attack during a tug-of-war on Thursday. TFI has yet to comment on whether it will restart the season or commission another for the format, which has been running since 2001.

“Koh-Lanta” is one of the country’s highest-rated programs, attracting an average 7 million viewers per episode in 2012, with a primetime peak of 8 million.

Last year, it brought in €12.7 millions ($16.3 million) in advertising revenues for TF1, according to data from Publicis-owned media research company VivaKi, quoted by BFMTV, the French equivalent to CNN. Each of its 13 episodes cost approximately $772,665 to produce.

Competition reality shows are popular in France and big earners for TV networks. TF1 has been on the forefront of the trend, acquiring many of the best-performing formats worldwide. Its biggest hit so far is “The Voice,” a Shine format. Last year’s first season brought in $27 million in advertising revs on a reported budget of $1.3 million per episode.

The second season has been attracting an average 7.5 million viewers, repping a 33% market share, on par with the performance of U.S. skeins “Person of Interest” and “House.”

Other competition reality shows punching the highest ratings and ad revs for TF1 include local versions of Shine’s “MasterChef” and the BBC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

Meanwhile, rival commercial net M6 has been successful with “L’amour est dans le pre,” the Gallic redo of FremantleMedia’s format, “Farmer Wants a Wife,” which is reportedly the most profitable reality show in France.

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