Adding a Discovery Channel simulcast into the mix pumped up viewership on The Challenger Disaster to nearly 2 million premiere viewers, and 5 million unique viewers during its debut weekend. On Science Channel, which co-produced the project with BBC, Challenger Disaster drew an average of 730,000 viewers in its Saturday premiere, making it the network’s most-watched program of 2013. The William Hurt-starrer is also the third-most-watched program in Science Channel history, tied with Firefly: Browncoats Unite. On Discovery Channel, the drama delivered 1.2 million total viewers in its premiere.
The Challenger Disaster follows the story of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Richard Feynman’s role on the Presidential Commission charged with determining the cause of the Space Shuttle Challenger’s explosion over Cape Canaveral, FL, on January 28, 1986. It was based upon Feynman’s book What Do You Care What Other People Think? chronicling his efforts to navigate the many vested interests represented on the commission, and quickly learn everything about the complexity of the space shuttle.