Last month, Ancient Aliens hit record low ratings for original broadcasts, spending most of the month drawing a live plus same day audience of fewer than 800,000 viewers. At the time, I suggested that part of the decline could be attributed to the show airing its new episodes opposite postseason baseball games and the World Series. However, I noted at the time that sports couldn’t be responsible for the entirety of the decline since the show almost always airs opposite some sort of sports event. Now, the ratings are in for the November 1 broadcast, and they indicate that the show’s audience has indeed entered a period of substantial decline.
This past Friday’s episode of Ancient Aliens brought in just 845,000 viewers, a significant increase of around 100,000 from its last original broadcast opposite baseball, but in line with its average performance during season fourteen. In recent past seasons, the show has averaged between 1 million and 1.5 million viewers. Its earliest seasons a decade ago sometimes drew more than 2 million viewers.
By contrast, the Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush drew 2.4 million viewers in the same time slot, and TLC’s Long Island Medium brought in 963,000 viewers opposite Ancient Aliens.
The show’s lead-out, In Search Of, has also experienced similar audience erosion. Its episode hunting for the Ark of the Covenant reached only 828,000 live plus same day viewers. According to the Nielsen figures, both shows had nearly identical numbers of viewers over the age of 50, but Ancient Aliens drew fewer viewers under 49, a reversal from many years when the show’s audience skewed relatively young compared to other History Channel offerings. According to the Nielsen figures, the difference is almost entirely due to female viewers under 49. More tune in for In Search Of than Ancient Aliens, while male viewership remained unchanged from 9 PM to 10 PM.
However, among the youngest viewers, those aged 12-34, more viewers of both genders watched Ancient Aliens than In Search Of.
So, basically, people my age (in their late 30s or so) seem to be tiring of Ancient Aliens, driving declines in the show’s ratings.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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