Survivor SA Immunity Island: A toned down final tribal as M-Net pre-records and axes studio audience

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Nico Panagio on Survivor SA: Immunity Island.
Nico Panagio on Survivor SA: Immunity Island.
Photo: M-Net
  • The season finale of Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island on Thursday, 16 September, will not be an in-person live broadcast.
  • It will be a pre-recorded episode that will be filmed in Cape Town on a closed set.
  • M-Net has decided to go this route due to Covid-19 and to keep the winner a secret.

The season finale of Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island on Thursday 16 September on M-Net (DStv 101) will be a toned-down tribal because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The final episode - which is a reunion and winner's announcement - of the 8th season of Survivor SA won't be a live broadcast; the pre-recording will take place in Cape Town on a closed set. It is also doing away with the in-studio audience, media attendance, the in-person press conference and sponsors.

Plans for the usual Survivor SA "pre-event" where special guests mingled before the live broadcast, as well as the "afterparty" where the latest season's castaways celebrated along with castaways from previous seasons and guests, have also been axed.

Instead, M-Net executives decided to close out the highly-regarded current season of Survivor SA with a more "low-key" pre-recorded reunion show finale for DStv subscribers – a move that will dampen some of the usual hype and the level of "live broadcast" excitement around the show's finale that is customarily regarded as so-called "appointment live-event television".

The end of previous seasons of Survivor SA saw finales broadcast live on M-Net from Johannesburg and later from Cape Town, with themed afterparties over the years held adjacent to the studio venues.

These were sought-after celebrations where the show alumni mingled, proudly wore their buffs and swopped stories and selfies, followed by in-person press conferences where the media got the opportunity to put questions to the top castaways, producers and M-Net executives. 

M-Net decided to axe the in-studio audience primarily for two reasons: To keep the winner a secret and because of Covid-19.

The Survivor SA finale in-studio audience found out the winner simultaneously during the linear broadcast when host Nico Panagio took out and revealed and counted the final votes.

Now everyone will watch from home since M-Net, and Afrokaans can't risk someone accidentally or on purpose leaking the winner's name during the period after which the Survivor SA: Immunity Island finale is pre-recorded and the broadcast date.

The 20 castaways of the season already signed NDAs as part of their contract and will face legal action should anyone of them leak the winner before it's announced during the finale.

M-Net tells Channel24 that "the channel has made the decision for the finale to be pre-recorded, and not a live event as per previous seasons" and that the finale will be recorded in Cape Town, where the last few seasons had their final episode.

"Due to Covid-19 and the risk of the winner being leaked before the finale airs, there will be no studio audience," says M-Net, also confirming that there will be no media or sponsors present.

"All castaways will be invited to the finale," says M-Net. "A physical set will be built, which will be a loose replication of the set from the Wild Coast in keeping with the 8th season of Survivor SA's look and feel."

"Due to Covid-19, the finale will be very low-key this season. It will be pre-recorded with no studio audience, and there will be no pre/after events as per previous seasons."

Survivor SA: Immunity Island airs Thursdays at 19:30 on M-Net (DStv 101)

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