CTV's 'Idol' eclipsing Global's 'Survivor'


TORONTO -- While Canadian broadcaster CTV is enjoying its best season ever airing Fox's "American Idol," CBS' "Survivor" is starting to lose traction for rival Global Television on Thursday nights.

Simulcasts of the "American Idol" and "Survivor" franchises in recent years have turned the American quest for TV prize money and glory into Canada's hottest primetime ratings battle.

"Idol," now running three times a week here, saw its results episode last Thursday lead CTV to a first-place finish for the night with 2.1 million viewers, against "Survivor: Fiji" on Global Television which drew 2 million viewers, according to BBM Nielsen Media Research.

At the same time, the first two "Idol" performance episodes last week pulled in an average 2.5 million viewers each for CTV.

For the current season to date, CTV is drawing an average 2.9 million viewers for "Idol" on Tuesday nights, an average 2.8 million viewers on Wednesdays and another 2.1 million viewers on average for the "Idol" results episode on Thursday nights.

The castaways on "Survivor: Fiji" by contrast are drawing an average 2.3 million viewers for Global Television's season to date, according to BBM Nielsen Research.

Susanne Boyce, CTV president of programming, attributes the continuing strength of "Idol" north of the border to audience buzz.

"'American Idol' is the No. 1 reality program in Canada, not surprising as it also is No. 1 in creating water cooler buzz," she said.

More crucially for CTV, "Idol" shows no signs of flagging. The Fox show bowed this season on CTV with 3.2 million viewers in the P2+ demo, its biggest debut ever, up from 2.9 million for the first installment last year.

By way of comparison, "Survivor: Fiji" is indicating a more typical ratings trajectory. The CBS reality show bowed this season on Global Television with 2.6 million viewers, down from the fall 2006 debut of 3 million viewers for "Survivor: Cook Island" and well behind the 2003 "Survivor: Pearl Island" bow of almost 4 million viewers.

But Barbara Williams, senior vp of programming and production at CanWest MediaWorks, which operates Global Television, says TV's longest-running reality series is still drawing big numbers for her network, despite maturing as a franchise.

"After 14 seasons, Survivor remains a Top 10 show, and consistently wins its time period, nationally and more importantly, in the key markets and demos," Williams said.