It was not a good week for ancient mysteries on TV. Ancient Aliens suffered a massive tumble in the ratings, losing around 20% of its viewers as its total viewership fell to just 881,000 for Saturday’s episode, ranking at the seventy-fifth most watched show that day. By contrast William Shatner’s The UnXplained, airing an hour later, cracked the top fifty with 946,000 viewers. Once again, a greater number of viewers under 49 tuned in to Shatner, giving his show the edge. Neither, of course, could hold a candle to Food Network’s 11 AM showing of The Kitchen, which trounced both in total viewers and in the demographic.
However, both of these shows look like ratings gold compared to the complete and total failure of Rob Riggle’s self-titled Rob Riggle: Global Investigator. The unfunny attempt to remake old episodes of Expedition Unknown with stale ethnic jokes cratered in the ratings, bringing in just 652,000 viewers on TV’s most-watched night of the week. The show aired on the Discovery Channel, one of cable’s highest-rated and most widely available networks. The only bright spot was that Riggle attracted slightly more young viewers than Ancient Aliens, though not as many as William Shatner.
Riggle’s episode searching for the lost city of Atlantis sank beneath the waves as timeslot competitors like History’s Food That Built America, TLC’s Sister Wives, HGTV’s 100 Day Dreamhome, and HLN’s Forensic Files II easily outdrew it. On the other hand, Riggle managed to wriggle out of complete humiliation, drawing more viewers that USA’s glossy cheerleader murder mystery Dare Me and Paramount’s Bar Rescue, though the latter outdrew Riggle among younger viewers.
Given that Discovery had programmed Riggle behind its ratings powerhouse Naked and Afraid, a top-10 Sunday show with 1.3 million viewers, the loss of nearly half the lead-in audience must be disappointing to Discovery. More so since Riggle lost nearly a third of the Discovery’s 10 PM Sunday timeslot viewers from the week before, when a Naked and Afraid: Alone episode aired at 10 PM. Boo-hoo. I am crying.
Riggle’s ratings woes are the latest failure of celebrities to interest audiences in pseudohistory. Megan Fox flamed out with her even lower rated Legends of the Lost, and Zachary Quinto’s In Search Of has struggled to capture an audience beyond the core Ancient Aliens viewer. Even Shatner’s ratings are a shadow of what similar programs were pulling only five years ago. Celebrity isn’t what it used to be.
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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