TV war: ‘Idol’ vs. ‘Survivor’
Tonight, CTV and Global battle for the title — Canada’s top-rated series
Fire up the Tiki torch and pass the Doritos: Survivor returns tonight and faces its biggest challenge yet — the finale of Canadian Idol.
At stake is the undisputed title of Canada’s top-rated TV series.
The showdown of the two TV titans is Canadian broadcasting’s battle of the network stars. It’s like the Super Bowl going against the Oscars. In one corner, you have Survivor: Vanuatu — Islands of Fire (8 p.m., Global/CBS), the ninth instalment of Mark Burnett’s island adventure reality series. In the other is the summer’s hottest ticket, Canadian Idol (8 p.m., CTV), with Alberta’s Kalan Porter or Saskatchewan’s Theresa Sokyrka finally winning the karaoke crown.
Host Ben Mulroney will read off the TelePrompTer for the umpteenth time that your Canadian Idol is Canada’s No. 1 show. But is it? The simple answer is no. By any measure (Nielsen or BBM media services), in total households or in demo most prized by advertisers, the 18-49-year-olds, Survivor wins. It’s not even close: Across Canada, Survivor averages almost a million more viewers per episode.
Idol, however, won its second straight summer, holding its popularity nationally from the summer before.
And no wonder: In the past few weeks, the ubiquitous Idol finalists have made Paris Hilton look press shy. There is a noisy reminder about tonight’s two-hour finale every eight minutes on CTV.
CTV can smell blood and they see an opening. If tonight’s Idol ender can top Global’s Survivor opener, they lay claim to the one ratings prize that still eludes them: Canada’s No. 1 show.
After importing every hit but The Apprentice the past three or four years, CTV has become Canada’s dominant network. They are by far Canada’s leader in prime-time, daytime and nighttime viewers. They win six out of seven nights a week – and are poised to go seven for seven with hockey benched Saturdays on CBC.
Still, Global can tell advertisers that they have Canada’s top show and are therefore the most watched network. It drives CTV nuts.
CTV could have sidestepped the showdown (Global is locked into a CBS Survivor simulcast) but deliberately chose to go head-to-head. It’s the hot new strategy in TV programming: Take out the other guy’s big gun.
Fox has taken this to a nasty new level in the U.S., rushing copycat reality shows on the air as soon as they get wind of a rival network’s plans. Sometimes it works (the early success of Fox’s Trading Spouses has chased ABC’s Wife Swap right off the fall schedule). Sometimes it doesn’t (Fox’s The Next Great Champ is a chump, a distant fourth-place finisher that is either no match for NBC’s upcoming The Contender or means reality boxing is a bust).
Will it work tonight? My guess is that both shows will draw at least three million viewers. When big shows do go head to head, as they did last week when Joey and The Apprentice premiered against the second last week of Canadian Idol, they all gained viewers. More people just turn the set on.
Two more predictions: Neither show will draw more than CBC got with Tuesday’s World Cup hockey final at 3.83 million (peaking at 4.9 million at 9:30 p.m.).
My other prediction: Both CTV and Global, who use rival ratings services, will produce numbers Friday that will allow each of them to claim victory. Funny how that works.
Why Idol will win:
* Survivor is due for a post-All-Stars slump. The show has already slipped out of the Top-5 in the U.S. How long can it continue to be dominant in Canada?
* Idol’s second hour won’t have Survivor to contend with. (Although it will go up against Episode 2 of The Apprentice). Idol’s numbers always spike in the final 10 minutes when the winner’s name is announced.
* Two sweet, talented kids, plus a “special” appearance by Ryan Malcolm.
Why Survivor will win:
* Everyone already knows the curly-haired kid wins Idol. There’s not much drama to tonight’s anti-climactic finale.
* No big market Canadian kids in the Idol finale. Saskatoon vs. Medicine Hat? Is it a curling playoff?
* Burnett has crafted another entertaining hour, revisiting the guys vs. gals tribal twist.
* Joey got off to a fast start last week and, like Friends before it, will lead in to Global’s Survivor coverage.
* Two words: Ben … Mulroney
TV war: ‘Idol’ vs. ‘Survivor’