Despite the summer temperatures, last night Canadian audiences were gripped by wicked winter weather and harrowing highway conditions. Discovery Channel’s original new Canadian series, HIGHWAY THRU HELL, kicked off the channel’s new fall programming lineup, reaching 1.7 million viewersduring last night’s premiere episode. With an AMA of 621,000 viewers 2+ – the highest series premiere in Discovery Channel Canada’s history – this gripping series about heavy rescue on one of Canada’s most treacherous highways already has incredible traction. Between 10-11 p.m. ET, Discovery was the #2 network in Canada, second only to CTV (including all Conventional, non-sports and sports, Canadian and U.S. Specialty ) for key demos 2+, A18-49 and A25-54.*
“Twice this year alone, we’ve beaten our long-standing highs for Discovery’s top-rated series premieres: first for January’s CANADA’S GREATEST KNOW-IT-ALL, and now for HIGHWAY THRU HELL,” said Paul Lewis, President and General Manager for Discovery Channel. “I couldn’t be prouder that both of these productions are original Canadian commissions, not only in terms of production talent, but also in content. The stories on HIGHWAY last night – and through the season to come – are bold, rich and rugged Canadian stories and clearly our audience is responding.”
Produced by Vancouver’s Great Pacific TV, the eight-part series winds through the heart of British Columbia’s Cascade Mountains, following the steep hills, lethal drop-offs, killer rockslides and brutal weather that characterize a treacherous 100km stretch of the Coquihalla Highway. It’s one of the most economically important, most travelled – and most inhospitable – trucking routes in North America. But trying to climb a long and gruelling 8% grade during winter storms, truckers spin out and smash up. During the worst storms, the big wrecks can come as often as every 12 hours. And when something goes horribly wrong on the Coq, the call goes out to the team of heavy rescue tow truck drivers who work for Jamie Davis Heavy Rescue. And when these wrecks close the road and choke traffic, Davis’ crew responds to remove the often-dangerous cargo, clean up the twisted metal, clear the road and get traffic rolling again for hundreds of drivers.
Capturing the mountains, Mother Nature and the toughest men in the towing business being pushed to their breaking point, HIGHWAY THRU HELL is a new must-see for viewers and also hits the mark for TV critics: The Globe and Mail says “HIGHWAY THRU HELL is entertaining, absorbing and educational,” and Postmedia News notes “HIGHWAY THRU HELL is a reminder that, unlike reality dating shows and TV talent competitions, these jobs are real, tough, challenging ordeals, performed by real people in treacherous, even life-threatening conditions. There’s an honesty and simplicity there that raises programs like HIGHWAY THRU HELL above what normally passes for entertainment TV. There’s real heroism on the screen, and it’s not staged or scripted.”
Viewers took to social media to talk HIGHWAY THRU HELL. Premiere day saw over 400 tweets connected with the show, with viewers chatting live during the ET broadcast with @HWYThruHell. Comments were overwhelmingly positive, touching television fans and members of the trucking community alike, including @jeffmadams “Discovery Channel @HWYThruHell is legit. As a trucker myself, I appreciate all they do for us to keep the wheels rolling. #HighwayThruHell”; and @BCTrucker1 “My son has a new apreciation for what I do to put food on the table, Driving the Coquihalla overnight thanks to #HighwayThruHell.” Discovery Channel Canada also executed a targeted ad buy on Facebook – a first for the network – generating 1,704 likes, 548 shares, and 301 comments for a single post**.
The series continues in its regular Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT slot with Episode 2, “Where’s My Rotator?” In this episode, a double-trailer load of lumber had flipped and spilled across a half-kilometre of highway. Even with three heavy rescue trucks, Davis’ crew doesn’t have enough equipment to do the job right. Right-hand-man Adam Gazolla is angry about the lack of equipment and the poor condition of his truck. Last year, Davis ordered a state-of-the-art heavy rescue truck called a Rotator. But the busy winter season is here and the custom-built wrecker still hasn’t been delivered. Just days before Christmas, Davis heads to the factory in Tennessee to bring it home himself. While he’s gone, Gazolla has his hands full with the “B” team when a semi filled with expensive wine goes off a cliff.