‘We want the most entertaining season yet’: Ten’s head of network programming, Daniel Monaghan, on building Australian Survivor: All Stars

Australian Survivor: All Stars kicked off last night on Ten, the first of two seasons of the Survivor format which will run in 2020. Hannah Blackiston speaks with Ten’s head of network programming, Daniel Monaghan, to discuss why the network chose to commit to two seasons and how important the success of All Stars is to Ten’s slate.

Shane Gould, David Genat, Henry Nicholson, Jericho Malabonga, Lydia Lassila, Mark ‘Tarzan’ Herlaar, Moana Hope and Mat Rogers. Those names may be just that to you – a list of names – but to Australian Survivor fans they’re a collection of villains or favourites from previous seasons, reunited in Fiji to duke it out once more. Or, that’s what Ten is hoping for with Australian Survivor: All Stars.

Tarzan, Shane Gould, David Genat and Mat Rogers are all back for Australian Survivor: All Stars

“Everyone will know all 24 contestants and have their favourites, and not-so favourites, already lined up and who they want to win. I think that’s the advantage going into an All Stars season over any of the others, particularly as it does, in all reality formats, take a bit of time to get to know new contestants. Here we have the luck that people already do,” Ten’s head of network programming, Daniel Monaghan, tells me on why this season will be different to the ‘regular’ season coming later in the year.

“We have a hundred contestants or so to pick from for this season, there has been four strong seasons across the years and it’s exciting, they play hard, they want to win. Two of them have won, everyone else is there for their first crown. And people want to see, of the best of the best, who comes out on top.”

Ten has aired the program since 2016 when it revamped the format from the original 2001 and 2006 seasons which ran on Nine and Seven respectively. Two regular seasons came first, then two Champions vs Contenders seasons.

When casting the All Stars season, Monaghan says it was important all the boxes were ticked. Ten needed champions, and contenders, but also needed favourites, villains, heroes, physical strength, social power and everything that makes Survivor great.

“It’s about having a balance, with 24 contestants you can divide it up into lots and go after everyone. It’s also about who polls well for us, who did well for us in the ratings, who has a great fan base in the background. All those things come into play, but you want a good series. You want people who have the fire and who are going to play hard and make it interesting to watch.

“After all, that’s all we want the most entertaining season yet.”

The All Stars are ready to fight from the get go

When it comes to the decision to run the season so early in the year – Survivor traditionally starts in June or July – Monaghan says the strength of the All Stars season would hopefully encourage viewers to follow the program. In the US, where the Survivor brand is at its strongest, two seasons run every year, although they are shorter, and diehard fans are used to a double hit. Ten is hoping the All Stars season can give the network a strong boost into the ratings period, which begins next week, and set the course for the rest of 2020.

“If we look at our competition, we want to offer something different in February to what Seven or Nine are offering. They’ve got their huge fan bases for MKR and Married At First Sight, but they’re very particular as well. Survivor has a different demographic that has a loyal fan base that won’t necessarily watch MAFS, or don’t want to watch dating or cooking. We think those viewers will follow [Survivor] around the schedule and come to February.”

As for what fans can expect, if last night’s premiere is anything to go by, no-one is safe. Monaghan says it’s clear from the outset that these players are here to win.

“It is next level. They come in, they’ve played before, some of them for a very long time. They know the game. They know what they did wrong last time. They already have a feeling on who to trust and who not to trust, so they come in and they play hard from the get go.

“What’s exciting as a viewer to watch is if these people are in a room together, or on an island together, who do they target first when there are so many threats of varying levels. Who do they go for?

“We have two seasons of 20 episodes this year, so it’s a huge investment to play two cycles in this market and we’re coming off the back of our best season ever last year and we want to continue that trend of growth and to offer viewers something different to what’s on the other networks. This is a key show that launches our survey year, it’s incredibly important to us.”


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