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Nik Wallenda Survived ‘Volcano Live’ But ABC Didn’t in Ratings Disaster

The Wrap Friday, 6 March 2020
Nik Wallenda Survived ‘Volcano Live’ But ABC Didn’t in Ratings DisasterTragedy averted, but not without a casualty. Nik Wallenda successfully traversed the 1,800-foot-long tightrope stretched across the Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua, but ABC was the one hurting Wednesday night.

In its 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. time slot, “Volcano Live With Nik Wallenda” ranked last among the Big 4 broadcast networks  — CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC — in all 10 of the demos that anyone really cares about, according to Nielsen’s Live + Same Day official-national ratings.

Those 10 demos include: adults (0.4 rating), men (0.4) and women 18-34 (0.5); adults (0.7), men (0.6) and women 18-49 (0.8); adults (1.0), men (0.9) and women 25-54 (1.1); and total viewers (4.2 million). As you can tell, women of all ages were more drawn to the stunt than men.

*Also Read:* 'The Masked Singer' Pushes Nik Wallenda's 'Volcano Live' Off a Tightrope in TV Ratings

“Volcano Live” was also last in households (2.7), if you need an 11th example. We stopped searching shy of making it a dozen ways to blast the event worse than a lava eruption could have (theoretically) taken out its protagonist.

Following its lackluster lead-in, ABC’s “Stumptown” at 10 p.m. was the lowest-rated primetime show on the Big 4 networks. You don’t need to be an audience-measurement expert to figure out that ABC finished in last place outright among its core competition.

Another bad comparison? The last time ABC aired all originals on Wednesday night from 8 to 10 p.m., that two-hour span averaged better ratings with a 0.8 among adults 18-49, the grandaddy of all the demographic groups. And that was in head-to-head competition with the “Survivor” Season 40 premiere on CBS, as well as “The Masked Singer” on Fox and NBC’s “Chicago” dramas.

*Also Read:* Nik Wallenda Has a Huge 'Last-Minute Decision' to Make Before Walking Over an Active Volcano

Such ratings erosion has been an unfortunate trend for Wallenda and ABC over their longstanding partnership.

Wallenda’s last special aired over the summer, so at least it didn’t have to go up against Fox’s “Masked Singer,” which can be blamed for some of Wednesday’s ratings challenges. But his July 2019 high-wire walk over New York City’s Times Square only did marginally better than the 0.7 rating among adults 18-49, and 4.2 million total viewers that watched Wednesday. “Highwire Live in Times Square With Nik Wallenda” posted a 0.8 rating and 5.2 million viewers.

The last one was better, sure, but it also faced pretty much zero competition.

*Also Read:* Nik Wallenda Successfully Completes 'Volcano Live!' Tightrope Walk, Plugs His Book a Ton

Going back even further to Wallenda’s previous broadcast-television death-defying (as “death-defying” as being strapped into a harness can get) stunt in 2012 — when he walked over Niagara Falls — that drop-off is much steeper. ABC earned a 2.5 rating and more than 10 million viewers with that one, and on a Friday night no less. But we all know that TV ratings ain’t what they used to be, so eight years ago can feel like a century when it comes to Nielsen measurement.

So was Wallenda’s latest walk worth it? Well, no one got hurt and Nik sure got to plug his book a bunch — but it might be time to sacrifice this relationship to the volcano.

If you’re among the many, many people who did not tune in to “Volcano Live With Nik Wallenda,” read our recap here.

*Related stories from TheWrap:*

'The Masked Singer' Pushes Nik Wallenda's 'Volcano Live' Off a Tightrope in TV Ratings

Fox News Wins Super Tuesday Ratings With 4.2 Million Primetime Viewers

Super Tuesday Is Not Very Super, Ratings-Wise, for Broadcast TV
Credit: KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas - Published
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'Volcano Live!' With Nik Wallenda 04:26

Tonight @ 8PM, right here on ABC

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