Niagara Falls Stunt Gives ABC Best Friday in 5 Years; 13 Million Watch Wire Walk

By Chris Ariens 

ABC won the night last night with three hours of programming leading up Nik Wallenda’s highwire walk over Niagara Falls.

ABC’s “Megastunts: Highwire Over Niagara Falls,” a production of ABC News and hosted by Josh Elliott and Hannah Storm with contributions from Bill Weir and Sam Champion, was the most-watched non-sports summertime (Memorial Day to Labor Day) telecast since 2006 and gave ABC its best Friday night since November, 2007.

From 9-11pm, ABC averaged 10.1M total viewers and drew a 2.5 rating / 9 share in the A25-54 demo.


The show pulled in 13.1M viewers in the last half hour. Wallenda’s walk began around 10:15pm and concluded at 10:42pm. The 10:30 half hour drew a 3.4/11 in A18-49 and a 4.3/12 in A25-54.

For the three hours of primetime, which, on ABC, were all devoted to the wire walk, the network topped second place CBS by +89% in viewers (8.7M vs. 4.6M), and more than doubled NBC in the younger demos: A18-49 (+110% – 2.1/8 vs. 1.0/4) and A25-54 (+117% – 2.6/8 vs. 1.2/4).

Last night’s wire walk hearkened back to an earlier TV time when death-defying stunts were more common, and networks more scarce. In October, 1975, when most viewers had just three TV channels to choose from, ABC’s Wide World of Sports broadcast Evel Knievel‘s motorcycle jump over 14 Greyhound buses at King’s Island amusement park in Ohio. That stunt drew a 22.3 rating and 52 share, meaning more than half of the available TV audience watched.