I am doing moving-related tasks today and don’t have a lot of time for writing, so today I’d like to share the ratings results for the past week in fringe history TV. On Friday, the History Channel and To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science collaboration Unidentified reached 1.158 million viewers (0.26 in the advertiser-preferred adults 18-49 demographic), beating its lead-in Ancient Aliens (1.1 million, 0.19 adults 18-49) for the first time. Both were trounced by HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home. It’s interesting to see that Unidentified is growing its audience beyond that of Ancient Aliens, particularly in the younger demographic, though the small variance from week to week suggests that this isn’t yet a pattern and can be attributable to any number of factors, including the relatively dull topic for this past week’s Ancient Aliens. The ’90s throwback to Bob Lazar probably alienated some viewers who consider him old news. Last year’s In Search Of briefly topped its Ancient Aliens lead-in for a small part of its run, but the overall pattern has been for the 10 PM ET show to lose viewers since the 10 PM audience is smaller than earlier in prime time.
Before we begin today, some ratings news: America Unearthed ticked up in the live plus same day ratings to 514,000 viewers and a 0.09 in the advertiser-preferred adults 18-49 demographic. The show reached a series high for its Travel Channel run for an atypical episode with almost no fringe history content. The rise in viewership might be due to viewers finding the series after a few weeks on the air, or realizing new episodes are airing. It might also be due to continued weak ratings for the History Channel, whose Curse of Civil War Gold draws two-thirds fewer viewers than Curse of Oak Island, which normally fills the Tuesday night timeslots, or to the lack of major sports events on Tuesday leading to lower ratings for ESPN, whose largely male audience overlaps with that America Unearthed. The show’s performance over the next few weeks will let us know if the audience will continue to grow.
I’m holding off on any major writing today until I review America Unearthed this evening. I just closed on a new house, and as you might imagine, there is a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it. As a result, I will be blogging intermittently for the next few weeks. I intend to continue reviewing America Unearthed and Ancient Aliens, but the days in between may be a bit spotty until I am set up in the new house. In the meantime, I thought that this week’s cover of The Week magazine was worth sharing. It points to the Navy’s recent revision of reporting guidelines for pilots who see unidentified objects in the sky, and it inflates that to the more grandiose idea of “Taking UFOs Seriously,” in keeping with the spin put on the story by the team at To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science in conjunction with their History Channel series Unidentified.
Earlier this week, Vox magazine’s Sean Illing spoke with Diana Pasulka, the author of American Cosmic, about space aliens and the threat that UFO beliefs are becoming a religion. In the conversation, Pasulka offered this gem of a response to a question about the so-called “Invisible College” of UFO researchers, whose activities have shaped ufology for the better part of the past four decades:
Let’s start today with the ratings for Friday’s UFO programming. Ancient Aliens was close to its week-to-week and year-to-year average. The first new episode of the fourteenth season drew 1.3 million people, with a 0.26 rating among the advertiser-covered demographic of adults 18-49. It ranked seventh in the cable ratings for Friday. Unidentified, the To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science UFO series, debuted with 1.286 million viewers and a 0.22 rating among adults 18-49, retaining most of its lead-in’s audience and outperforming most of the other shows that have followed Ancient Aliens over the past ten years in that regard. It ranked eleventh among all cable shows airing on Friday. But don’t despair! Both were outdrawn by HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home, which had 1.6 million viewers and a 0.29 rating among adults 18-49. So, in the hierarchy of American life, lottery fantasies easily outdraw mind- and soul-shattering “truths” about time, space, and reality.
After reviewing America Unearthed Tuesday night, I was a little too tired to spend too much time writing again yesterday for posting today. Staying up past 11 PM has become a lot harder since having a kid, and the fact that I had a 7 AM appointment the next morning only made it worse. So, today I want to spend only a few minutes highlighting some of the questionable statements that journalist Ralph Blumenthal made to Mike Damante of Punk Rock and UFOs in discussing his recent story reporting on the claims of some Navy officers who will appear on Friday’s History Channel show Unidentified, the network’s show made in conjunction with To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science, whose work Blumenthal and writing partner Leslie Kean have been feeding off of for almost two years. The pair have steadfastly refused to disclose to readers their conflicts of interest, including their relationship with To the Stars and Kean’s founding of a UFO advocacy group. Imagine the Times asking an anti-abortion advocate to cover abortion for the paper, and you will start to see the problem.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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