Thanks to the Summer Olympics, we don’t have to worry about a new episode of Ancient Aliens this week. But I thought it might be a good idea to check in on the cable ratings to see how the series is doing after it posted near-record low ratings a couple weeks back. Last week’s episode offered a bit of a comeback for the series, returning to a series-average 1.28 million viewers, making it cable’s ninth most watched show last Friday night in the advertiser coveted 18-49 demographic. However, the series was handily beaten in its timeslot in the demographic by the night’s most popular offering, Alaskan Bush People, on the rival Discovery Channel. That series brought in more than two million viewers. In total viewers, The Kelly File beat both shows, but its audience skews old, meaning that it can’t compete in more desirable demographics.
I was a bit surprised that almost twice as many people would prefer to watch Ancient Aliens in that timeslot than Syfy’s original drama series Killjoys, which tanked at just 771,000 viewers, about the same number that watch Cops reruns on Spike.
The Viceland channel has a special deal with the Nielsen ratings to keep their viewership secret, so no rating information is available on the Action Bronson Ancient Aliens discussion series that runs on that network.
You would think that with all of the money that corporate America dumps into fringe history through projects like Ancient Aliens that fringe historians would let up a bit on their persecution complex. They’re better funded than many real researchers! But it’s as strong as ever. Multimillionaire Graham Hancock complained just this week about the TED organization trying to “keep people asleep” by suppressing him—all while his Magicians of the Gods receives a showy paperback release from the same division of Hatchett, the world’s third largest book publisher, that publishes Stephen King in the U.K.—and several fringe historians have recently made noise about how academics and governments can’t be trusted or are actively conspiring to destroy evidence of aliens, the Bible, etc.
How many times have we heard fringe history types complaining that “authorities,” particularly the government, are working to suppress the truth and stifle their ability to get their version of the truth out? How many times do we have to see that this posturing is a total and complete lie before the reality starts to sink in that fringe history sucks just as hard on the government’s teat as any other industry?
According to public documents, the America Unearthed quasi-spinoff show Found applied for and received “Snowbate” financing from the state of Minnesota as part of a program designed to encourage movie and television production in the state. The show’s producers submitted a budget claiming more than three million dollars in Minnesota spending, for which they are eligible for up to a 25% rebate. Half of those funds are provided directly by Minnesota taxpayers. The document also shows that Monsters, Myths, and Legends, which I believe was the working title of the program airing on History last year as True Monsters, applied for and received a similar rebate on its $1.6 million Minnesota spending.
Meanwhile, up in Canada the suppression of the truth takes the form of a giant payout to Tell Tale International, Canadian producers for Curse of Oak Island. While the series has not been officially renewed for a fourth season, the Nova Scotia government approved $1.27 million in taxpayer subsidies. These subsidies come from Nova Scotia Business, Inc., which despite its name is actually a provincial agency and not a private business. As I understand it, Curse of Oak Island is produced by Prometheus Entertainment (the company behind Ancient Aliens) on the American side but partners with Tell Tale in Canada for “service production” to qualify for Canadian handouts, which require a certain amount of Canadian employment, control, and spending to qualify. Nova Scotia, for example, will only give money to a company that operates from a permanent location in Nova Scotia, like Tell Tale International.
While Nova Scotia Business’s Nova Scotia Film and Television Production Incentive Fund should be ashamed of itself for using taxpayer dollars to fund a program that gives a platform to conspiracy theorists and fakers like Alan Butler and Kathleen McGowan Coppens, the fact that government money goes toward putting this pseudohistory on the air is a fairly strong argument that world governments are not suppressing the truth about fake history. Or it would be unless you are a conspiracy theorist and think that it’s all part of a disinformation campaign to humiliate conspiracy theorists by showering them with cash.
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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