CBS set to pull in $35 mil windfall for last 'Survivor'

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CBS stands to reap as much as $35 million in ad revenue for the season finale of the juggernaut "Survivor."

CBS is doubling ad prices for the Aug. 23 finale and considering expanding the last show into a 2-hour extravaganza.

Initial advertisers, such as the U.S. Army, Reebok International, Ericsson, Anheuser-Busch, DaimlerChrysler's Dodge division, and Schering-Plough Corp., paid $300,000 a spot for the earlier shows in the series. But the finale price will now be $600,000 per :30.

"We hope as charter advertisers we will get a better rate for the finale," said a veteran ad agency media executive who bought into the show.

"Survivor" has been so successful that CBS is planning on using next year's Super Bowl--one of network TV's biggest promotion platforms of the year--to plug a new incarnation of "Survivor" that begins airing in February. The new show will be shot in Australia.

NO. 1 IN THE RATINGS

The most recent Nielsen ratings for "Survivor" for June 28 put the show in the No. 1 position for the week, pushing it to 24 million viewers for its fifth installment. This has made the series so far the most successful summer series ever, now averaging 21 million viewers a week.

That compares favorably to "Seinfeld," which during its first five episodes in 1990 pulled in an average of 20.1 million viewers. Until now, "Seinfeld" held the summer-best record. "Survivor" has also beaten out last year's summer smash, the debut of ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," which averaged 14.36 million viewers for its 13 shows.

"Survivor" has been climbing in virtually all ratings categories since the series began May 31. But for June 28, it posted a 9.6 rating and 31 share in the key adults 18-49 demographic, with the rating down 2% vs. the week before. Analysts, however, anticipated this because typically as the summer goes on viewer numbers decline.

BEST YET NUMBERS

But for other demographics, "Survivor" posted its best-yet marks in adults 25-54 (10.6/32), teens (5.7/24) and kids (4.4/17). Its numbers for adults 18-34 (9.5/33) last week rank behind only the June 21 ratings (9.8/35).

The show's big ratings enabled CBS to win Wednesday night, with 14 million viewers, and an average 5.5 rating and 16 share among adults 18-49. That's a big plus for the network, which has been saddled with a reputation of attracting mainly older viewers. NBC was in second place with 9.8 million viewers for the night.

Copyright July 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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