The medicine I’m taking for my sinus infection has left me drowsy, and I have to choose between being able to breathe or being awake. Right now, I’m choosing breathing, but it has left me with less energy for writing than I would like.
Since it’s been a slow 24 hours in the world of fringe history—and a rather slow month overall, truth be told—I thought it might be worth checking in on this past week’s Nielsen ratings. Project Blue Book sank a bit more this week, declining to 1.7 million viewers. This is significant because for the first time it lost more than 50% of the viewers from lead-in Curse of Oak Island, which drew 3.55 million viewers this week. The Travel Channel’s new “mystery” series intended to replace Expedition Unknown similarly made little mark. Legend Hunter with host Pat Spain, a grandnephew of Charles Fort, examines “mysterious” and “anomalous” phenomena and sensational crimes with an eye toward “questioning mainstream science.” It unintentionally answers the question of whether a mystery still exists if no one is around to observe it. The 10 PM series spent this week hunting for the Irish Crown Jewels, which interested only 377,000 viewers. But the Travel Channel—one of the Discovery Networks properties—can at least take heart that it isn’t fellow Discovery network Destination America, the rural-themed paranormal channel. That network’s Paranormal Lockdown series attracted only 120,000 viewers at 9 PM and 127,000 at 10 PM.
Sadly, these numbers mean that the Travel Channel must be practically orgasmic that reruns of America Unearthed continue to draw numbers around 20% higher than Travel’s original programs. America Unearthed attracted 412,000 viewers on Monday night from 8-10 PM, while their 10 PM offering, Lost Gold, brought in just 334,000 viewers.
So, it’s a mixed bag. The bad news is that the numbers seem to suggest that Travel would financially benefit from producing more America Unearthed and greatly increasing the network’s audience. The good news is that the numbers also suggest that less than 0.2% of Americans are watching the Travel Channel, so it may not make much of a difference beyond the core of true believers who are already watching.
But this Sunday we’ll get some useful data about how loyal the fringe audience is. Opposites the Super Bowl, History is airing another Ancient Aliens marathon. It will be interesting to see how many people tune in.
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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