The recent news that Survivor will return to UK screens after a 20-year hiatus is nothing short of a tremendous coup for all involved.
The international TV industry’s warm reception to this announcement is testament to the legacy of this iconic entertainment format, which has seen 50 adaptations since its debut in Sweden back in 1997, following its creation by producer Charlie Parsons.
But let’s rewind 25 years. At its inception I’d dare bet not a single person in our business could fathom how this extraordinary piece of IP could expand beyond the traditional linear television environment to become a shining light – or torch (if you will) – in the digital channels portfolio of the world’s largest independent producer-distributor.
Of course, the notion of a ‘FAST channel’ back in the 1990s was unimaginable. Yet one theme that was as relevant in 1997 as it is today, is ‘key, recognisable IP’. Those who know me realise I talk a lot about this when proceeding to launch any new FAST channel. I’ve always maintained it’s paramount to have market awareness and recognisable content to offer a lean-back viewing experience and to attract that new, fresh, audience at a time when so many media firms are flocking to this space.
Survivor, with its incredible global influence, delivers this in abundance for Banijay Rights’ digital operation. This was proven in February 2022 when our Survivor FAST channel launched across Samsung TV Plus UK, alongside our other recognisable brands: Deal Or No Deal and McLeod’s Daughters. Since then, more than 17 million minutes have been viewed on the UK channel – which, to date, has over 210 hours of content scheduled at any one time. And there’s plenty more scope to launch the channel across other platforms in the UK and beyond in the coming months.
FAST channels are an effective way of keeping the shelf lives of TV shows going, reaching out to an audience who may not be necessarily watching on linear television
But why’s all this important for a global producer-distributor like ourselves?
To put it simply, Survivor’s success in the FAST channel realm highlights the importance of leveraging finished tape content across huge formats into the digital space. In essence, if we want to expand on Banijay Rights’ 15 unique live channels and 47 syndicated feeds, single recognisable IP like this long-running format, is essential to our ambitions. It’s important to have that much-needed scale in big markets like the US, the UK and Germany, which will continue to drive those strongest returns to companies like ours.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that FAST channels are an incredible way to further monetise back catalogue titles, which are perhaps in their third our fourth window relicenses. I’m not drawing back the curtain too much here, but a brand like Survivor can actually spearhead our portfolio and send ripples down to our relatively smaller IP, which can – in turn – make gains off the back of this. Essentially, FAST channels are an effective way of keeping the shelf lives of TV shows going, reaching out to an audience who may not be necessarily watching on linear television. Not that they won’t be watching Survivor UK on the BBC of course!
Indeed, these channels continue to be the key evolving distribution proposition that allows us to generate incremental revenue outside of traditional finished tape sales.
Now entering a new dawn, Survivor is without doubt a key contributor in driving these returns, as we look again to increase viewership across our combined channels next year (beyond 2022’s mark of 50 million hours). So, allow me to be one of the first to toast to Survivor’s return to UK linear television on behalf of our digital community – and raise a glass to another 25 years.
Shaun Keeble is VP of digital at Banijay Rights, where he oversees the global distributor’s digital self-publishing commercial activities.