As much as we all love to see dramatic moments on TV, one we didn’t want to see was tightrope walker Nik Wallenda falling irretrievably into the Grand Canyon Sunday night on “live” television.
Thank heaven that didn’t happen as Wallenda, 34, became the first human to cross a portion of the Grand Canyon on a high wire.
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Seen Sunday night on The Discovery Channel, the crossing required him to walk approximately 1,500 feet across a gorge on a two-inch wire about 1,800 feet up without a net and carrying a balance bar.
More than 8.5 million viewers tuned in for the one-hour prime-time special, with the time period within the show of the actual tightrope walk drawing a whopping 13 million — terrific numbers for any network, broadcast or cable, on a sultry summer Sunday. Discovery reported the ratings on Monday afternoon.
Wallenda accomplished the feat successfully, despite unusually high winds — a hazard, certainly, but something Wallenda had been trained rigorously to expect and to cope with.
The high winds forced him to concentrate intensively during the walk (which, we assume, he would have done anyway). He talked about the challenges in a post-walk interview when he was understandably out of breath. The walk and the interview were seen in the Discovery special titled “Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda.”
It was the second year in a row in which Wallenda captivated audiences on live TV. Last June, he crossed Niagara Falls on a high wire — a feat that aired live on ABC.