Animal Planet played a huge joke on its viewers, and it paid off in spades.
The creatures and critters channel aired "Mermaids: The New Evidence," a mockumentary, last Sunday and grabbed a network record 3.6 million viewers.
"Mermaids: The New Evidence" is a follow up to last year's "Mermaids: The Body Found," complete with scientists (played by actors, of course) and a related website that says it has been "seized" by the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.
(The previous record for most viewers at Animal Planet belonged to another fantasy creature: "Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real.)
But if Twitter traffic is to be believed, Animal Planet's joke nabbed more than a few new believers.
What else is the government hiding from us if they're hiding the fact that #mermaids are real...— Kari Delemarre Brand (@KariBrand) May 28, 2013
Yep. I'm convinced. #mermaids are real.— Caroline Richardson (@c_line23) May 30, 2013
So totally real #mermaids— Lexi Vicenzi ☺ (@lexvicenzi) May 30, 2013
What's so convincing is the consistency....in all of the images and videos we've seen they look the same #mermaids— Silent Bob (@C_Errrr) May 27, 2013