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Searching for the next Wallenda

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Searching for the next Wallenda

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NEW YORK (AP) – Television executives are looking for more than hot actors these days.
They’re searching for the next Nik Wallenda.
With ratings for Wallenda’s tightrope walks across Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon in mind, networks are taking meetings from people pitching programmes about cars flipping over, or an attempt to set a record for simultaneous skydives. They’re all on the hunt for the next big event.
Social media and television’s economic system have given rise to a counterintuitive trend – the more opportunities there are for people to watch TV on their own time with digital video recorders (DVR) and video on demand, the more valuable programming that can deliver a big live audience has become.
It’s not just stunts. Live sports, awards shows, singing competitions and the Olympics are all examples of programmes that networks consider DVR-proof.
“The larger the event, the more buzz-worthy it becomes, the more social it becomes and it breaks through the clutter,” said Andy Kubitz, ABC scheduling chief.
Wallenda’s walk across Niagara Falls last year was a Top 10 show that week for ABC. An average of 10.7 million people saw him on a tightrope stretched over the Grand Canyon in June – the most-watched live event in Discovery’s history.