Is this further proof that broadcasting live events may be the best way to get large viewership in the increasingly fragmented and DVR/online streaming-skewing TV universe? Last night’s two-hour ABC special that carried live Nik Wallenda’s highwire walk directly over the precipice at Niagara Falls helped the network score its largest viewership in almost five years, since November 2007, and the most watched non-sports summer program on any network in six years. From 9-11 PM, Megastunts: Highwire Over Niagara Falls – Live! drew a 2.5 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 and 10.1 million total viewers, peaking in the final half-hour to numbers rarely seen on Friday or in the 10 PM hour on any night even during the regular season: 13.1 million viewers and a 3.4/11 in 18-49. ABC dominated the night but it ran largely unopposed, with NBC’s Dateline (1.2/4, up a tenth from last week) as the only other original on the night. It tied ABC’s 8-9 PM Countdown to Niagara special as the second highest-rated program.
Also last night, Disney Channel’s Let It Shine became the No.1 TV movie of the year in Kids 2-11, Kids 6-11 and Tweens. It posted 5.7 million total viewers, 3.0 million Kids 2-11, 2.6 million Kids 6-11 and 2.3/million Tweens.