What The Challenge All-Stars success could mean for the future of Survivor

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

The Challenge: All Stars has proven to be an unmitigated success for Paramount Plus. The streaming service is in need of original content to bring in viewers and All Stars gives it just that in an easily digestible, relatively cheap-to-film format. In fact, the word is out in The Challenge spoiler community that production is already casting for the second season.

Because The Challenge and Survivor now share a streaming service, All Stars’ success may give us an idea of where Survivor could be heading in the future. Like the main version of The Challenge, Survivor airs two seasons per year. The Challenge is a little more free-wheeling with when the seasons air, but generally fans get two per year.

Survivor does all of its filming over a short period in the late spring and early summer, while The Challenge films throughout the year. This distinction is very important when considering what Survivor could take from All Stars. With such a long break between filming seasons, Survivor production has an opportunity to give fans a third, shorter season that airs exclusively on Paramount Plus.

What might a Paramount Plus season of Survivor look like?

Of course, there are several factors making this difficult to pull off. Survivor production needs that off time to edit the season and cast for future seasons. The Challenge isn’t bringing in brand-new players each season, which speeds up the casting progress. That said, there are ways Survivor could still make something like this work.

The first, and most likely option, would be shorter seasons with returning players. So often we see fan favorites left out of the pool because they can’t commit to 39+ days of filming a show. If the season brought in 12 players and dropped the in-game day count to around 20, production might find it easier to fit people into the schedule.

After all, unlike The Challenge, most Survivor players don’t make playing the game a career. There just aren’t the same opportunities to return to the game. Instead, they have to go back to their normal lives and only hope to come back someday when it lines up with their schedule. Shorter, All Stars-like seasons would give more players that opportunity to play more frequently and more easily.

Of course, there may have to be major changes to the format. You can’t simply take the normal Survivor game and just toss it on a shorter season that might be filmed somewhere outside of Fiji. Instead, they’d need to take cues from All Stars, which made some big changes to The Challenge’s format, particularly in the latter stages of the game.

Generally, The Challenge ends with a grueling finale. This race puts players through the wringer both physically and mentally. All Stars still had that, but instead of six or eight players competing, there were 12 and they used a points system to give players a score based on their placings on a specific leg.

Obviously, that format wouldn’t work for Survivor. However, it does show the type of changes fans would need to expect from a Paramount Plus version of the show. We might see more frequent eliminations or smaller tribes at the start. Regardless, this would be a drastic change for fans of the show, but one that could allow production to experiment ahead of the main seasons. Giving concepts a trial run for the streaming show would let production work out the kinks before introducing them to the main audience on CBS.

Another thing a Paramount Plus version of the show could give fans is the long-anticipated Celebrity version. Again, filming Survivor takes nearly two months out of a player’s life. Trying to find enough celebrities who can commit to that at one specific time is nearly impossible. However, if Paramount Plus were to have shorter seasons, the show might have enough leeway to bring in enough celebrities to make it happen.

In some ways, the possibility for what a The Challenge: All Stars-like season of Survivor could look like are limitless. And the audience’s desire for something like this would unquestionably be there. We’ve seen how successful ORG’s like Sequester are. The audience is there for a streaming Survivor show that plays with the format in interesting ways. All Paramount Plus needs to do is provide fans with a reason to show up.

Next. What a shortened season of Survivor could mean for the show. dark