Discovery Channel, looking to top Nik Wallenda‘s made-for-TV tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon, has signed Joby Ogwyn to attempt the first wing suit flight off the summit of Mount Everest, live on Discovery Channel in May. The jump — a descent of more than 10,000 vertical feet at speeds of over 150 mph – will be telecast live in 224 countries and territories.
Discovery’s had good luck with live daredevil specials. In July, an average of 13 million people watched Wallenda slowly walk a wire across the Colorado River Gorge while conducting a running dialogue with God and Jesus. “Oh, I praise you, Jesus. Lord, help this cable to calm down — command it,” the 34-year-old aerialist suggested a few yards into his quarter-mile Skywire Live With Nik Wallenda. Wallenda was not wearing a harness but had a microphone and two cameras — including one that looked down on the dry Little Colorado River bed and one that was focused dead ahead. Discovery telecast the ratings grab with a 10-second delay in the U.S. and a couple hundred other countries. The two-hour event delivered 8.5 million total viewers — jumping to 13 million during the actual walk. It became the third-highest-rated telecast of all-time in Discovery Channel history and was the most-watched TV program that night, beating everything on the broadcast nets and cable.
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EXCLUSIVE: Discovery Channel, which snared 13 million viewers in June when it telecast Nick Wallenda slowly walking a wire across the Colorado River Gorge while conducting a running dialogue with God and Jesus, will premiere a docu on the controversial life of motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel on October 14. True Evel traces Knievel’s early childhood in Butte, MT, and rise from simple stunt man to American brand, inspiring countless entertainers, a line of toys and even a Marvel Comic by harnessing the power of publicity and marketing with outlandish stunts. The one-hour special will use archival footage and interviews with family, friends and colleagues to document his rise from small-town fairs to sold-out stadiums and infamous jumps, such as the one over the fountains at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, winding up with his final, penniless days. The man marketed as an American hero had another side, Discovery says. “He would [tell] kids — study, go to school, get good grades, treat your mom and dad right,” motorcycle racing star Skip Van Leeuwen says in the docu. “Two hours later, he’d be chasing 15 girls naked around his boat. It was nuts.” True Evel is produced for Discovery Channel by Kowalski TV. Craig Coffman serves as executive producer for Discovery.
Because aerialist Nik Wallenda did not get a chance to talk to Today B teamers Willie Geist and Natalie Morales while he was walking across the Little Colorado River Gorge for Discovery Channel last Sunday, he will “talk the walk” this Sunday instead, the basic cable network said today. Wallenda had been so busy talking to Jesus and God it had seemed inappropriate at the time to interview Wallenda during his walk, Geist told viewers after the walk ended happily. This Sunday at 8 PM, Wallenda will tell viewers what he was thinking and experiencing physically every step, and Discovery will get to pop a number with a live event telecast repeat a full week later — another incredible feat!
Presumably Discovery Channel would like to continue to do business with Nik Wallenda, after his live Sunday high-wire walk garnered good numbers for the network — weekly ratings came out this morning and Wallenda’s actual walk, which Discovery reported clocked 13 million viewers, would be the week’s fourth-most-watched telecast behind two nights of NBA Finals on ABC and one night of The Voice on NBC. And, after the walk, Wallenda said he was looking forward to working again with NBC News’ Today B-team, Willie Geist and Natalie Morales. They’d hosted Discovery’s coverage of the walk, which was produced for Discovery by NBCUniversal’s Peacock Productions (Today got the Wallenda interview the next morning). Not wanting to do business with Wallenda is the city of New York, where Wallenda announced during Sunday’s post-walk blah, blah, blah that he’d like to do his next made-for-TV wire walk between the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told the local CBS station the city will not give Wallenda, who last year crossed Niagara Falls for ABC, permission to walk the 4,000 feet between the two iconic buildings. Discovery and Peacock Prods: you’ve got your work cut out for you.
An average of 13 million people watched Nick Wallenda slowly walk a wire across the Colorado River Gorge while conducting a running dialogue with God and Jesus last night on Discovery Channel. “Oh, I praise you, Jesus. Lord, help this cable to calm down — command it,” the 34-year-old aerialist suggested a few yards into his quarter-mile “Skywire” stunt. Wallenda was not wearing a harness but had a microphone and two cameras — including one that looked down on the dry Little Colorado River bed and one that was focused dead ahead. Discovery telecast the ratings grab with a 10-second delay in the U.S. and a couple hundred other countries. The two-hour event delivered 8.5 million total viewers — jumping to 13 million during the actual walk.
Note to Wallenda: you might want to re-think the whole “no harness” thing, because the extra dange did not goose your ratings. They were on par with the numbers you clocked for your last made-for-TV high-wire act, crossing Niagara Falls for ABC. That stunt, which ABC aired last June, averaged 10.1 million viewers, peaking at 13.1 million viewers during the walk.
Anyway, Discovery noted this morning Sunday’s stunt shattered records across numerous platforms including social media, where Wallenda generated 1.3 million tweets becoming the #1 most social show across broadcast and cable in the U.S.
For comparison sake: during the 9:30-10 half hour, in which Wallenda was actually walking the wire and clocking 13 million viewers, ABC’s Whodunnit? logged 3.8 million people, CBS’s The Good Wife rerun snared 3.3 mil, NBC’s Crossing Lines bagged 4.2 mil and Fox’s American Dad repeat popped 3.2 mil.
Related: Nik Wallenda’s Historic Skywire Walk A Social Media Score For Discovery Read More »
Too bad social media wasn’t around in Evel Knievel’s day. Tightrope walker Nik Wallenda and his 1,400 foot “Skywire” scoot 1,500 feet over the Grand Canyon sans safety harness drew a flurry of online action for Discovery Channel Sunday night. During a post-walk Wallenda interview with the Today Show‘s Willie Geist and Natalie Morales, the network revealed that the feat, broadcast live in the US and 223 countries, generated 40,000 Tweets per minute, 700K Tweets in total, and 1.5M streams on Discovery.com. Even CNN‘s Piers Morgan was impressed. Tweeted @PiersMorgan: “Now THIS is cable news #skywire.”