Though perhaps not to the same degree as T-Rex or the woolly mammoth,
smilodon scored for Discovery Channel: The prehistoric saber cat helped the
network bite down on its third-highest-rated program ever.
Walking with Prehistoric Beasts - which explored a wide array of now
extinct creatures, including smilodon, the giant pig-like entelodont and human
precursors Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon man - averaged a 4.7 household rating
during its Dec. 9 premiere. That translated into 4 million households and 7.1
million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data.
That performance made the three-hour special, which aired from 7 p.m to 10
p.m., the third-highest rated program in Discovery history and cable's top-rated
documentary for 2001. The show also generated a 3.9 rating among persons 25-54,
translating into 3.9 million viewers within the demographic.
Consequently, the special scored a higher household rating within its time
period than broadcasters The WB or Pax TV, as well as all other basic cable
networks, aside from ESPN and its NFL Sunday Night Football.
Among the 25-54 demo, Discovery Channel ranked ahead of NBC, The WB, Pax and
allother basic and pay cable services, on average, during its time slot,
according to Discovery officials.
A British Broadcasting Corp./Discovery Channel/TV Asahi & BS
Asahi/ProSieben co-production, the special employed computer animation,
animatronics and digital technology to create a photo-realistic interpretation
of what earth might have been like in the days after the dinosaur epoch.
Beasts' predecessor, Walking with Dinosaurs, was Discovery's
top-rated program, earning an 8 household rating, for an average viewership of
10.7 million people, when it bowed on April 16, 2000. Raising the Mammoth
was second, thundering to a 7.8 rating during its March 12, 2000 premiere.
All told, some 18.6 million people tuned into some part of Beasts
during its premiere or the encore presentation that immediately