Declining ratings prompted advertisers to drop "Survivor"

Thursday, September 14, 2006

When the CBS television reality show "Survivor" premieres Thursday, Sept. 14, several of its longtime advertisers won't be sponsoring the show - and some media watchers speculate the controversial decision of show producers to split up competitors into teams by race may have played a factor. But an associate professor of journalism at the University of North Texas says the decision may have really come down to costs and declining ratings.

Dr. Jim Albright says he doesn't believe the widely publicized breakdown of the teams on the show by race had much to do with the companies' decision to pull advertising.

"I think the competition of the media market, and where companies ultimately decided to spend their money, are a bigger factor," says Albright, who has been a copywriter, broadcast producer and/or creative chief/group head for several ad agencies in the Dallas area.

The sponsor withdrawals total more than $26 million in ad sales. But Albright points out major corporations who had pulled ads from "Survivor," including General Motors, Proctor and Gamble, Coca-Cola and Home Depot, also advertise during televised sporting events, and the costs to do that are rising.

"Advertisers want to go after a young audience, and live programming including sports are among the best ways to do this," Albright says. "But it's extremely expensive. It's a case of simple economics - spend more money where the viewers are, and less where they aren't."

Even though "Survivor" is expected to perform strong in the ratings, it has seen a decline in viewership since its first two seasons in 2000 and 2001. Albright adds, however, content is a key factor for companies when they buy ads.

"In all forms of advertising, people who choose where to place their ads do so based on editorial content. For example, you probably wouldn't see the same company advertise in both the Wall Street Journal and Playboy magazine," he says.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

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