Big hype, but little attendance

'Survivor' Thursday draws lower morning turnout for CBS than for rivals on NBC and ABC—by a sizable margin

It's a Survivor Thursday-Aug. 17 to be precise-at CBS' The Early Show, which means Sean, the neurologist and latest contestant voted off the show, will be on the program.

Thursdays are the biggest days for crowds outside the studio at 59th and Fifth Avenue in New York. The temperature is comfortably in the high 60s, with a light breeze. The weather is perfect for attracting an outdoor audience.

Outside the studio, there's a "crowd" of 15 people.

That was the peak throng between the start of the show at 7 and 7:45 a.m., and that does not count a group of 30 striking SAG actors picketing a few feet away or three fiberglass cows planted in front of the building as part of a citywide public art exhibit, although, to be fair, the cows were facing the glass-front studio.

Just a few blocks away at Rockefeller Center at 8 a.m., The Today Show has an energetic crowd of about 400, sprinkled with signs carrying messages such as "Wassaaa Miami" and "We're with stupid." And not far away in Times Square, at 8:45 a.m., Good Morning America's audience is strong at 175 (combining the 150 or so inside a glassed-in area and the handful watching from outside).

According to CBS, the average daily crowd at The Early Show is approximately 200.

With each show dividing its anchor teams to cover the Democratic convention in Los Angeles, it was not an optimal day for the crowds: Today Show reps put the average crowd at 800, twice the day's showing, and an ABC representative estimated that GMA averages about 300 people a day.

The CBS newcomer does not have the established and enthusiastic fan base of its two long-running competitors; it's also a little off the beaten path for tourists. The Early Show 15 lacked video cameras, fans carrying signs and, surprisingly, visible excitement over the major guest: When Sean walked out of the studio, he wandered around unnoticed for a couple of minutes until someone glanced over and recognized the famous former castaway. Then they quietly and politely introduced themselves.