December 12, 2013 11:00am PT by Kimberly Nordyke
CBS Renews 'Survivor' for Two More Editions; Jeff Probst Re-Ups as Host
CBS has ordered two more editions of its long-running reality series Survivor.
The network has picked up the 29th and 30th editions of the unscripted competition, taking it through the 2014-15 season.
Additionally, Jeff Probst has signed a new agreement to return as host and executive producer of the show. Probst -- who has won five Primetime Emmy Awards for his work on Survivor, including four for best host and another shared win as part of the producing team for best nonfiction program -- has been with the show since its May 2000 debut.
"Survivor continues to set the bar for outstanding production values and compelling storytelling while delivering fresh new adventures every season," CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler said in a statement. "The show’s enduring success is a testament to the creativity and passion of Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst, and an amazing production team."
The current edition -- subtitled Blood vs. Water, in which former players are competing alongside their relatives -- consistently wins its 8 p.m. Wednesday time period and ranks as the No. 2 reality series among adults 18-49 on broadcast TV. It's averaging 11.29 million viewers, a 3.1 rating in adults 18-49 and a 4.1 in adults 25-54.
Executive producer Burnett attributes the show's success to its "Swiss Family Robinson meets Lord of the Flies" format.
"How great is it to watch people dropping everything, going off to an island, and building a society where they actually get to wipe the slate clean and start anew?" he says in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "And then in this game you have to build relationships, eliminate those people and then ask those very people for a million dollars."
For Probst, it was a no-brainer to re-up as host and executive producer.
"This is the dream come true," he tells THR, adding that it's "incredibly gratifying" to be part of a show that's been on the air so long. "To be in our 14th year, our 27th season, and still getting ratings, it's amazing. I think the secret ingredient for Survivor's success it that we have an incredibly loyal audience that just stays with us, and not a lot of shows can say that."
Probst says producers try to give viewers "what they want." Case in point: Next season is a "direct response to the fans," he teases.
Burnett adds that, if the current season aimed to answer the question of how people deal with having to vote off a loved one, then the 28th edition will examine "what kind of person is most likely to win Survivor."
As for whether the show might feature another Blood vs. Water type of twist in the near future, Burnett says: "Certainly not too soon because we always try to keep it fresh, but maybe in some way that's not exactly the same. We try not to repeat. The only thing we've done again is fans vs. favorites and all-stars every few years."
In addition to the other twists that have shaken up the game over the years -- from the hidden immunity idol to Redemption Island -- Probst notes that the casting process itself also has evolved. He says that now, social media plays a big part, whether it's hopefuls reaching out to him on Twitter or the show's casting director discovering interesting people on Facebook.
"It doesn't matter how you find people, you just want good people," he says, adding that the ideal castaway is "a three-dimensional person with life experience who's able to tell a story."
Survivor is produced by SEG Inc., with Burnett and Probst as executive producers. The Survivor: Blood vs. Water finale airs 8-10 p.m. on Sunday, followed by the live reunion show.