Discovery announced Ferrell’s guest stint, set to air in June, at its Wednesday upfront presentation in Los Angeles. Also at the presentation — the last of its upfront showcases around the country — Discovery execs cheered the strong ratings from Tuesday night’s season-five bow of “Deadliest Catch.”
The Thom Beers-produced “Catch” easily won the night in cable, averaging 4.2 million viewers — up 23% from its season-four bow — and a 2.0 rating/5 share with adults 18-49, its best number in the demo ever. The “Deadliest Catch” lead-out also helped fuel solid numbers for the premiere of “Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment.”
Also at Discovery’s presentation, net execs mostly highlighted a slate already announced earlier this month, which, beyond “Man vs. Wild” and “Deadliest Catch,” also includes “Mythbusters,” “Storm Chasers” and “American Loggers.” Discovery also will bow specials such as “Engineering the Universe,” “Mega Beasts” and “Discovery Atlas.”
In addition, Discovery is prepping the six-hour special “Out of Egypt,” starring renowned Egyptologist Kara Cooney, who shows how the ancient civilization’s practices spread throughout the world. Other Discovery specs doubling as backdoor pilots include “Weaponizers” and “Belly of the Beast,” hosted by Rossi Morreale.
Ferrell’s “Man vs. Wild” seg is tied to the June 5 release of the thesp’s Universal release “Land of the Lost.”
Ferrell’s appearance is part of a larger partnership between Discovery and Universal Pictures. Discovery previously integrated U’s “Frost/Nixon” into an episode of “Cash Cab,” while the studio’s “Fast and Furious” was linked into an episode of Discovery’s “Destroyed in Seconds.”
In the “Man vs. Wild” episode, Ferrell joins Grylls in the far north of Sweden, where they spend 48 hours performing tasks such as rappelling down hundred-foot frozen waterfalls, tandem-abseiling off a helicopter and staying warm overnight in subzero temperatures.
The two also find food in the forest, improvise snow shoes and drink their own urine.
“Will did an amazing job in subzero, very unforgiving conditions,” Grylls said. “He trusted me when it mattered, and we survived. … He should be very proud of how he performed.”
Ferrell called the stint on “Man vs. Wild” “a thrill of a lifetime, even though I did get urine-drunk, which is sad.”
Discovery Channel prexy-general manager John Ford noted that the duo not only share a snow shelter but eat reindeer eyeballs together.
“That says it all,” Ford said.
Discovery Communications ad sales prexy Joe Abruzzese points to the Ferrell guest spot as an example of working closely with advertisers on content integration, while Universal Pictures media promotions VP Annah Zafrani called it the studio’s “most innovative project to date” with Discovery.
“We’re able to connect ‘Land of the Lost’ to Bear’s fans — people who love adventure and mysterious worlds,” Zafrani said.