Discovery Draws 13 Million to Wallenda Tightrope Crossing

Discovery Channel said about 13 million viewers watched its telecast of Nik Wallenda becoming the first person to cross the Grand Canyon on a tightrope.

The 23-minute segment, aired on June 23, in which Wallenda, 34, walked across the Arizona canyon, led the most-watched night for the network since July 2010, Silver Spring, Maryland-based Discovery Communications Inc., said on its website.

Wallenda, who tightrope-walked across Niagara Falls in 2012, crossed a 1,400-foot (426.7 meter) span of the Grand Canyon without the use of a harness or restraint, the company said yesterday. The section is about 1,500 feet above the Little Colorado River, a height greater than the Empire State Building in New York, according to Discovery.

The event, which occurred in a remote part of the Grand Canyon run by the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation, was aired live in the U.S. and in 223 countries.

The “Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda” pre-show averaged 6.25 million viewers, while the main event, which included the walk segment, averaged an audience of 10.7 million, Discovery said.

Wallenda, a seventh generation of the Flying Wallenda Family, used the event to honor his great grandfather, Karl Wallenda, who died in 1978 from a tightrope fall in Puerto Rico. Wallenda is planning his next feat, which may include stringing a wire between the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building in New York, according to Discovery.

Discovery, also owner of TLC and Animal Planet cable channels, fell 0.4 percent to $75.14 at the close in New York yesterday. The stock has climbed 18 percent this year, compared with a 10 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

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