Survivor is off to a strong start, but it’s actually the weakest premiere since the show began. I have to admit I’m surprised, I expected it to be up 10% or more, especially with all of the racial controversy. Here’s a clip from Variety:

Weeks of “controversy” helped the race-based 13th edition of “Survivor” get off to a strong but not spectacular start Thursday night.

While the overall numbers were great — surpassing the demo numbers for the debut of ABC’s younger, sexier “Dancing with the Stars” earlier in the week — the media hype surrounding “Surivor’s” racial theme this season didn’t seem to have a rubberneck effect on the show. Indeed, Thursday’s premiere will actually go down as the lowest-rated opener for the “Survivor” franchise since its original summer 2000 debut.

CBS skein scored a 6.3 rating/20 share among adults 18-49, according to Nielsen prelim fast nationals. That’s the best rating for the franchise since February, and on par with the show’s fall 2005 debut (6.6/19).

Overall, “Survivor: Cook Islands” attracted an average audience of 17.71 million viewers and notched a 7.7/21 in adults 25-54, easily dominating its 8 p.m. timeslot. As always, skein grew at the half-hour, building 14% in adults 18-49.