By Alan Pergament
The local ratings for the Discovery Channel were sky high Sunday night for Nik Wallenda’s high-wire act over the Little Colorado River Gorge near the Grand Canyon.
The two-hour program averaged an 18.2 rating from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., hitting a peak of 24.0 from 9:45 p.m. to 10 p.m. when two-thirds of Wallenda's 22-minute walk were completed.
The rating rose to 23.4 at 10 p.m. when Wallenda, his wife and their three children were being interviewed.
The Discovery rating was about half of the local rating a year ago carried on Channel 7 when Wallenda's walk across Niagara Falls was televised by ABC, a broadcast network. Sunday's program almost assuredly is the highest-rated Discovery program here in history, though there are no official records to confirm that.
Since Discovery is a cable channel and Sunday's walk was out of town and didn't get near the local hype that the Niagara Falls walk did a year ago, the 18.2 rating for Discovery is extraordinary.
National ratings were unavailable at this writing, but viewership in Buffalo is expected to be much higher than it was in most other markets.
To put the local ratings in further perspective, the Wallenda rating was 11 times higher than the 1.6 rating that AMC received for the season finale of "Mad Men" (which will be repeated) and about three times as high as the 6.5 rating that Channel 2 received Saturday night for Chicago’s game five victory in the Stanley Cup finals over the Boston Bruins.
The 18.2 rating also was about 30 percent higher than the 14.1 rating for the season finale of NBC’s “The Voice” last week.