NOTE: Due to Discovery moving the low-rated Rob Riggle: Global Investigator to an overnight time slot, my Friday blog post will be delayed until I have had a chance to watch the show sometime Friday morning.
It’s slow-going this week thanks to a dearth of interesting claims to write about, so I am going to take today off. After all, I wasted enough time this week slogging through Dark Fleet. But before I sign off for the day, I’ll report that the Nielsen figures for Saturday’s History Channel broadcasts find that the surge of audience interest in Ancient Aliens was short-lived. After a one-week hiatus, the show returned to fewer viewers, attracting just 1.08 million live plus same day viewers, down from 1.2 million for its last original episode. Similarly, The UnXplained lost about the same number as well. However, the number of younger Ancient Aliens viewers, those 18-49, continues to rise, hitting a 0.21 this past week. Older adults stopped watching, accounting for the overall decline in viewers, but young people are flocking to the show in numbers not seen since early in the show’s decade-long run. Meanwhile, The Curse of Oak Island remained steady at 3.5 million viewers, while The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch lost some ground, clocking 1.9 million viewers, the vast majority of whom were over the age of 50.
Dark Fleet: The Secret Nazi Space Program and the Battle for the Solar System
Len Kasten | Bear & Co. | March 2020 | 240 pages | ISBN: 9781591433446 | $16.00
I hate to say it, but I think that the great cultural pause created by the COVID-19 lockdown has finally ground much of the fake history industry to a halt. Sure, there are social media posts from people claiming that random rocks are world-changing artifacts, and somehow the History Channel is broadcasting, but otherwise we don’t have much left. I can’t get into The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch. I just don’t have the patience to sit through an hour of people who admit to not knowing anything wandering about to deliver about 30 seconds worth of information, most of which will be disproved the next week anyway. So what does that leave us with? I am barely able to tolerate Rob Riggle: Global Investigator despite its subject matter’s tangential relevance to my interests, and only because it’s like watching a train wreck of bad choices. The Science Channel’s resurrected Forbidden History (formerly of the Travel Channel, formerly of AHC) has been a disappointment. (Apparently, even though it is not part of my cable package, I still have online access.) The first episode involved a failed hunt for a World War II load of Japanese gold. The second revisited the Shroud of Turin just in time for Easter. It’s all so … boring.
A few years ago, I wrote an article outlining some of the efforts of the former Soviet and current Russian governments to undermine faith in Western science through propaganda aimed at promoting pseudoscience. I discussed longstanding efforts to promote UFO and ancient astronaut mysteries, and I late described how Russian Twitter bots had been caught spreading UFO and ancient astronaut memes along with medical pseudoscience and extremist political views aimed at sewing discord among Americans. For my efforts, I receive a barrage of criticism that I had given the Russians too much credit for propaganda, particularly when I highlighted instances where ancient astronaut theorists repeated Russian propaganda claims or proudly admitted to receiving Russian “secret” information. Some even appeared on Russian propaganda outlets, and Ancient Aliens devoted several glowing episodes to praising Putin’s Russia as a source of UFO mysteries.
I feel like I should analyze in some depth the newest guest article published on Graham Hancock’s website. In it, Rory Duff claims to have discovered the real Holy Grail and that it is a vortex created by a network of sound waves that envelops the Earth. These sonic ley lines are somehow both broad enough to form pathways and nodes hundreds of miles across on one of his maps but area also narrow enough that single church can be positioned exactly on the line and not a meter left or right of it in other parts of his work. According to Duff, the Knights Templar learned of these lines beneath the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and spent centuries hunting for the most important vortex that would serve as the true Grail, located somewhere in Spain.
But I just can’t do it.
Young Viewers Tune Out "Secret of Skinwalker Ranch"; Plus: The Return of "Rob Riggle: Global Investigator" Delivers Humiliating Ratings
This week Ancient Aliens is off (returning next week), so I am also taking the weekend off. But I do want to pass along the ratings data for this big week in pseudo-documentaries. On Tuesday The Curse of Oak Island brought in 3.5 million viewers, while its lead-out, The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch had a soft launch, fumbling more than a third of its lead-in. Skinwalker brought in just 2.0 million viewers—high for cable, but disappointing compared to its lead in. It lost fully one-half of all the Oak Island viewers under the age of 49, earning a 0.34 rating in the 18-49 demo to Oak Island’s 0.70. Turns out that the ceiling on interest in space poltergeists remains fairly stubbornly set at 2.0 million mostly older viewers, just as it has been for almost ever alien-themed cable pseudo-documentary. The only silver lining is that Skinwalker built massively on the even poorer ratings for the show it replaced, Project Blue Book, which had only 1.4 million viewers when it left the air last month. Skinwalker is therefore the most successful Oak Island companion series, and seems destined to run itself into the ground for years if it can keep up ratings. Meanwhile, Rob Riggle: Global Investigator totally shit the bed with ratings that made its Sunday failure look like a success. After failing hard with only 650,000 viewers on Sunday and being pulled from the valuable broadcasting night, the relaunched Discovery Channel series humiliated itself by drawing just 489,000 viewers in its new Thursday timeslot, with a 0.13 rating among adults 18-49. By comparison, the same night last week had twice as many viewers for Discovery’s Homestead Rescue, and three times as many for the same show the week before that. Riggle’s show is actively repelling Discovery’s viewers.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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