Will Ten's Australian Survivor be the last reality show standing?

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 19 August 2016
Australian Survivor outdoor marketing at Flinders Street station.

Ten has high hopes for new show Australian Survivor, which premieres this Sunday, in what is looking like one of the most competitive TV slots this year.

Today, Ten revealed sponsors for the show include Hungry Jack’s, AHM and Holden. On Sunday, the program will be up against the new season of Nine's reality renovation show The Block and the final night of the Rio Olympics Games. Then on Monday, Seven is launching its new reality baking show Zumbo's Just Deserts.

If the competition isn't enough, the concept of an Australian version of Survivor hasn't resonated with audiences in the past. Both Seven and Nine tried and failed more than 10 years ago; both were pulled after one season. Reasons for their demise range from a too easy going cast to low budget production.

Ten says its attempt to revive the concept, in which 24 contestants on a Samoan island need to win challenges and survive 55 days, promises 'one of the best reality show casts assembled', plenty of drama, physical challenges and a touch of romance.

“I've seen the first episode and it's got some real drama that I think will get a lot of talkability on social media. It's got a lot of strong physical challenges, and Australians love that,” Ten's head of brand Matt McGrath says. “I think it will probably skew young...older people will be harder to get, but we've been working on communications around that.

“To give you an example, we know what really resonated for older audiences was the tropical island and the idyllic nature of what they will see. For the younger audiences, they're more interested in the gamesmanship, the conflict and in what happens next. There's a big split between those audiences.”

The network say it has run one of its biggest marketing campaigns this year to test out interest levels and promote the show.

This includes an outdoor railway station ‘takeover’ of Flinders Street railway station in Melbourne (pictured), Town Hall and Parramatta stations in Sydney and Brisbane Central station. There's also experiential events and plenty of promotion across TV, print, radio and online in recent weeks.

“One thing we do is try and go big for campaign launches,” McGrath explains.

“Rather than fragmenting your spend, we really concentrate on going big when you need it, concentrating our spend two weeks before launch because people make decisions much later. If you try to cover all bases you don't really get seen.”

While market testing has shown promising results in terms of awareness and intent to view, McGrath says it is sometimes futile to try and predict.

An example of a show that had surprising results on launch but has since become a hit is The Bachelor Australia, which launched at 649,000 - well below expectations of one million.

“Three years on and we're doing close to a million in five cities in the 900,000s...I think initially there were issues around the male audience so we now have done a campaign around that.”

Ten wouldn't reveal the numbers it expects Australian Survivor to achieve, but executives are cautiously optimistic it can help Ten continue its run of increasing metropolitan market share.

However, it won't be easy, concedes McGrath: “One of the biggest differences this year is that Seven and Nine are not giving us any breaks, we are continually coming up against their top shows.”

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