Riding Survivor's coattails
Susanne Ault -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/18/2001 7:00:00 PM
Thanks to some synergistic sparks, CBS' Survivor: The Australian Outback boosted its sister show under Viacom, Paramount's Entertainment Tonight, to a third-place finish among all syndicated efforts for the week ended Feb. 4, a feat the magazine strip hasn't accomplished in a year.
For that period, which coincided with Survivor's debut, ET climbed 9% from the previous week, to a 7.0 household rating-17% over its 6.0 season-to-date score. This is impressive also because it's the first time this season a syndicated effort-besides Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune- has moved into 7.0 territory, according to Nielsen Media Research.
ET Executive Producer Linda Bell Blue acknowledges that landing Richard Hatch as exclusive Survivor correspondent among news-magazine strips (CBS' The Early Show has also nabbed him) is a definite draw for viewers.
"We are giving them something special that they can't get anywhere else," she says, noting that Hatch predicts losers each Thursday prior to Survivor's airing and interviews the castoffs each Friday. "There is no better person than Richard to offer insight into the strategies surrounding Survivor."
Other non-Viacom magazine shows didn't see the ratings bump that ET did. Warner Bros.' Extra was unchanged for the week, at a 3.3. Faring better, but still far behind ET, was Warner Bros.' Access Hollywood (2.8, up 8%). And Inside Edition (3.3, up 3%), distributed by Viacom subsidiary King World, arguably should benefit, but ET has secured the 7:30 p.m. slot on several top-market CBS stations (including KCBS-TV Los Angeles and WCBS-TV New York), the lead-in to Survivor.
Although Blue is glad to ride Survivor's train of success, she insists that CBS and Viacom have "absolutely not" violated ET's editorial integrity by pushing her to promote Survivor "We have a great deal of autonomy. There is no pressure about what we should or should not cover."
And ET isn't saturated with Survivor news. Blue points out that the magazine was the first to snag Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's divorce papers and the first to report that Halle Berry had gotten married secretly.
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