Auds rush to Discovery’s ‘Gold’

Unscripted series drew 5.4 million Friday, topped night in demo

There’s gold in that thar show: Discovery Channel’s frosh hourlong unscripted skein “Gold Rush” is the network’s No. 1 series for the year, hitting 5.4 million viewers last Friday and pulling in a season-to-date average of 4.3 million.

Its Dec. 16 airing was cable’s most-watched program of the night and stood as the top-rated show on television — broadcast or cable — in adults 18-49 (2.1 rating/7 share), according to Nielsen.

In terms of contemporary economic worries, “Gold Rush” covers most of the bases: The series follows six laid-off casualties of the post-housing-crash economy from their hometown of Sandy, Ore. to Porcupine Creek, Ala., where they prospect for ever-more-valuable gold as they slowly consume the $150,000 they’ve scraped together for the expedition.

The show has scored steady gains over its eight segs; total viewership started off at a modest 3.3 million in October and broke the 4 million mark by Nov. 11. The numbers put the series up there — and above, for the moment — Discovery fixtures including “Deadliest Catch” and “American Chopper.”

Series, originally “Gold Rush Alaska,” is produced by Raw Television and is, oddly, not the only prospecting-themed reality show to be unveiled in the last few months. National Geographic Channel greenlit thirteen eps of “Goldfather” back in Sept.

“Gold Rush” also benefits from a robust online presence, with post-show online content serving some 2 million streams this season to date.