What’s Behind Walking the Line

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

It came as no surprise that Nik Wallenda’s death-defying walk across the Grand Canyon on Sunday June 23rd attracted lots of attention.

A strategic move by The Discovery Channel, Wallenda’s nail-biting stunt garnered similar viewership to his walk across the Niagara Falls that aired last year on ABC. Propelled by his outrageous talent and family’s tragic history, millions of viewers tuned into the Discovery Channel to watch Wallenda walk across the Grand Canyon on a tight rope — the channel’s highest-rated live event to date. Of course, there was more at stake than just ratings.

The event’s 13 million viewers certainly made all of The Discovery Channel’s advertising worthwhile, plus, adorning Wallenda in a Discovery Channel t-shirt was brilliant as well, since every picture of the acrobat helps to promote Discovery’s role and reinforce the event’s legacy.

As for Wallenda? He did it! His acrobatic resume is beefier than ever, while his successful reputation leaves America cheering for more. You can only imagine how the Twitterverse responded with comments about his jeans, his family, and of course, his death-defying feat. This walk will remain a hot topic of conversation for now—or at least until his next one.

Overlooked, however, is the Navajo Nation’s contribution to the event. More specifically, the Nation granted Wallenda access to a section of land belonging to the tribe after he was turned away by the government. Supporting Wallenda’s feat is great publicity for the Navajo Nation, which is reportedly considering building a road and parking lot at the site of Wallenda’s walk to welcome interested visitors. The two hours of picturesque footage captured by Discovery are sure to further advance tourism too as the program re-airs.

As for the future, Wallenda hopes to walk his tight rope across New York City connecting the Chrysler Building to the Empire State Building.  If approved, it is sure to be another high-profile, high-wire walk for Wallenda and whichever channel picks it up. Until then, watch as Wallenda, Discovery, and the Navajo Nation ride high and use PR to further the event’s success.


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