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Nik Wallenda's ratings fall for Chicago wirewalk

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Nik Wallenda

The Chicago skyline could not compete with the Grand Canyon.

Nik Wallenda’s heavily hyped tightrope special Skyscraper Live delivered a very large audience for Discovery Channel on Sunday night and broke two world records. But the telecast couldn’t top last year’s Arizona stunt.

Discovery says an average of 5.8 million viewers tuned in for the full telecast to watch the daredevil take a stroll between two Chicago skyscrapers, 600 feet above the city street, without a harness or a net. The average peaked at 6.7 million viewers for the blindfolded portion of the walk. This marks Discovery’s most-watched telecast of the year.

The endeavor went perfectly for Wallenda, was broadcast to 220 countries and set Guinness World Records for highest blindfolded tightrope walk and the highest incline tightrope walk. But Wallenda’s Grand Canyon Skywire Live coverage in 2013 averaged 8.5 million viewers (13 million for the actual walk).

Other possible reasons for the ratings dip: November is more competitive time of year in the ratings compared to June (when Wallenda walked the Grand Canyon), plus some viewers who watched the Grand Canyon stunt might have felt like the Chicago special was more of what they’d already seen.

Wallenda is already planning his next feat: The fourth generation tightrope walker says he will recreate his great-grandfather’s greatest feat of crossing Georgia’s Tallulah Gorge.