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Travis Pastrana’s ‘Evel Live’ Brings Big Ratings to History

Are stunts going to make a comeback… again?

Remember when basic cable networks were scrambling to program live “stunts” in a bid to cash in on bigger viewerships? Well, it’s still happening. And that might not be the worst idea.

Sunday’s coverage of action athlete Travis Pastrana paying tribute to legendary daredevil Evel Knievel in Las Vegas was a boon to History. Evel Live, which followed three big stunts taped live in Las Vegas, set social feeds aflutter and averaged a whopping 3.5 million viewers over three hours on the A+E-owned network. Excluding news and mainstream sports, Evel Live is cable’s most-watched special of 2018 to date.

The cable networks were all over the stunt fad just five years ago. That’s when Discovery attracted 13 million viewers to watch Nik Wallenda successfully tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon. But Wallenda’s Chicago follow-up pulled only half of that sum, while a squirrel suit jump from Mt. Everest was canned by an avalanche. Fox had its own Knievel tribute poised for 2014, but budget and production concerns wiped it from the schedule.

As for Evel Live, it also scored in the demos, nabbing 1.6 million adults 25-54 and 1.2 million adults 19-49. On the digital front, video coverage has already garnered 12 million views.

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