by Joal Ryan
Mar 7, 2006, 4:00 PM PT
Survivor could use an immunity necklace about now.
The 12th edition of the CBS reality series, Panama--Exile Island, fell short of the top 10 again last week, finishing 11th with 16.1 million viewers, per Nielsen Media Research.
Since its typically strong season debut on Feb. 2, the show's ratings have weakened by 17 percent. Once the ruler of the 8 p.m. Thursday hour, it's been inched off its throne by one event (Dancing with the Stars) after another event (Winter Olympics figure skating) after another event (American Idol).
Two weeks ago, when all three events ganged up on the game, Survivor dropped to a series-low 14.8 million viewers.
The ratings attrition, however, can't be blamed entirely on an especially cutthroat winter. Even when numbers from last fall's Guatamala edition are added in, the Survivor franchise is down 12 percent from last season. It's the first significant drop-off for the genre standard-bearer since the show stopped being an Idol-esque phenomenon, and started being another top 10 show, albeit a remarkably consistent Top 10 show.
For seven straight Survivor editions, from 2001's Africa to 2004's Palau, the series never averaged fewer than 20 million viewers for a season. Last year's Vanuatu showed the first sign of vulnerability, dipping to 19.6 million.
Ratings slump or no, CBS is not about to extinguish the show's torch. On Monday, the network announced it has already renewed Survivor for the 2006-07 season.
And the news keeps getting better for the castaways of Exile Island. Next week, they won't have to go up against American Idol.http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,18511,00.html