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People sure do love their Bible stories. History’s new 10-part miniseries The Bible made its debut with a whopping 13.1 million viewers and a 4.6 million in the adult 25-54 demographic. The enormous viewership ranks last night’s airing as the No.1 cable entertainment telecast of the year. The great triumph of The Bible demonstrates the great potential religious themed entertainment that caters to a Christian audience. Executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey employed some of the companies responsible for the marketing of the blockbuster The Passion of the Christ, which has certainly paid off.
The success of the miniseries gave new series, The Vikings a great launching pad and the show certainly benefited from the popular lead in. The program, History’s first scripted series, held on to 6.2 million viewers, 2.5 million adults in the 18-49 demographic. The debut of The Vikings became the top cable series premiere of the year.
Both programs saw an increase of viewers in their second running later that night. Cable television has again shown its ability to create programming that will not only appeal to niche markets, but also draw in audiences that significantly rival network programming viewership. Just a few weeks ago AMC’s The Walking Dead broke records with its mid-season premiere. The basic cable show and the History miniseries differ greatly from each other but have managed to attract crazy huge audiences, showing that cable television is definitely enjoying an increasingly successful moment programming. Will it continue? I wonder how much audience overlap there is between the series, will television producers see this as an opportunity to introduce a new genre mash-up? I am already looking forward to the potential series, Zombie Jesus.