Eaten Alive

Discovery’s Eaten Alive has some real ratings bite: The controversial special delivered the most viewers for a nature documentary on the cable channel in four years.

A total of 4.1 million viewers tuned in Sunday night to watch author and conservationist Paul Rosolie trek through the Amazon rainforest and wrestle with a 25-foot anaconda (one that apparently didn’t have much of an appetite). According to Discovery, that’s the biggest audience for a nature show on the network since Life in 2010.

Eaten Alive has drawn heated reactions ever since Discovery announced the show last month. First animal rights activists protested the special. Rosolie countered that the goal of the show was to protect millions of creatures whose habitat is being destroyed by deforestation. Then after the special aired, viewers complained Rosolie wasn’t actually consumed, while Discovery defended the special (“it became clear that Paul would be very seriously injured if he continued on”).

Rosolie previously told EW that the extreme snake stunt was necessary to “grab people by the eyeballs” to get viewers to pay attention to a well-intentioned conservation documentary. It seems he may have been right.

Also: Discovery’s special 15-minute “episode” of Naked and Afraid with Seth Rogan and James Franco delivered 2.3 million total viewers.