The prospect of a guy plummeting to his death on live TV didn’t yield the huge burst of social-media activity Discovery Channel probably hoped for.
The cabler aggressively promoted the live broadcast of Nik Wallenda’s Chicago high-wire act Sunday night on Twitter and other social channels — but the event didn’t come close to crossing the chasm as one of TV’s most-social events.
For Discovery Channel’s “Skyscraper Live with Nik Wallenda,” about 3.4 million people in the U.S. saw one or more of the 153,000 tweets sent about the show on Sunday, Nov. 2, according to data from Nielsen. Tweets about the event were sent by 79,000 unique authors and seen a total of 22.4 million times.
That trailed many other recent high-profile TV events, including “Sharknado 2” on NBCUniversal’s Syfy on July 30, during which about 5.5 million people saw at least one of the 581,000 tweets about the creature feature. And it was well behind major live events like the Super Bowl XLVIII on Fox (with an audience of 15.3 million on Twitter and a total of 1.8 billion tweet impressions), as well as this year’s Academy Awards and the Grammys.
Indeed, “Skyscraper Live with Nik Wallenda” didn’t even top the night on Nielsen’s Twitter TV Ratings. AMC’s “The Walking Dead” scored a unique audience of 4.1 million (21.8 million impressions) on Nov. 2, while NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” matchup between Baltimore and Pittsburgh garnered 5.3 million uniques (49.6 million impressions).
Discovery Channel promoted Wallenda’s stunt — in which he scaled one tightrope between two buildings that rose eight stories, and another while wearing a blindfold — on Twitter with the hashtag #SkyscraperLive before, during and after the TV broadcast. In addition, the cabler streamed the high-wire act at SkyscraperLive.com in 14 languages, providing additional camera angles and a live backstage show with host Chris Jacobs. According to Discovery, SkyscraperLive.com served up about 2.5 million video streams (not users) for the night.
On Facebook, meanwhile, Discovery has 30 million fans. The most-liked post related to the Wallenda broadcast was a video of him testing the first wire, which had been liked 25,930 times within 19 hours.
The extent to which the Wallenda-related social activity, such as it was, fueled TV viewership is unclear. Twitter-sponsored research has found that 92% of its users have taken immediate an action (like tune to live TV or search for a program) after seeing a tweet about a TV show.
“Skyscraper Live with Nik Wallenda” aired across the U.S. and in more than 220 countries and territories. (Note that the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings cover only the United States.) The show was hosted by Willie Geist and Natalie Morales of NBC’s “Today” and The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore.
Tweets about the event included Morales’ selfie with Wallenda after he made the first crossing:
— Natalie Morales (@NMoralesNBC) November 3, 2014
Other showbiz types and wags also weighed in on Twitter about the feat:
Dang, I missed most of the hour long #SkyScraperLive pre show. Did anyone happen to mention if this wire walk is dangerous?
— Danny Zuker (@DannyZuker) November 3, 2014
Nik Wallenda heartbroken tonight when told he could have gotten to that other building for $2 using Uber.
— Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks) November 3, 2014
Big news guys – Nik Wallenda just walked from over here to over there
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) November 3, 2014
Everyone talking about some guy on a tightrope. No one commends the quiet everyday courage it takes for me to go to bed 1 hour early tonight
— John Hodgman (@hodgman) November 3, 2014