“The Bible,” “Vikings” attract record ratings for History

Mark Burnett-produced dramatic miniseries The Bible scored record ratings for U.S. cable network History on Sunday night, which also landed a hit with scripted series Vikings (pictured).
March 5, 2013

Two scripted drama series pulled in record ratings for History on Sunday night (March 3).

The two-hour premiere installment in the U.S. cable network’s 10-part, Mark Burnett-produced miniseries The Bible attracted 13.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen, enough to make it the number one cable entertainment telecast of the year so far.

The program also scored 3.3 rating among the adults 18-49 demo. In all, the show drew more viewers and a higher demo rating than competing programs on the major broadcast networks, according to History.

Then, at 10 p.m. the same evening, the premiere episode in History’s first full scripted series Vikings (pictured above) pulled in 6.2 million viewers. Starring Travis Fimmel and Gabriel Byrne, the Dark Age drama portrays the bloody conflicts of the Norse warrior society through the eyes of protagonist Ragnar Lothbrok, and is an Irish/Canadian coproduction between World 2000 and Take 5 Productions.

The Bible, which will air over the next four Sundays culminating in an Easter broadcast, uses a mix of live action and CGI to retell some of the most famous stories from the religious text, including Noah’s Ark, the Exodus to Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

“Today, more people are discussing God’s chosen people – Moses and Abraham – in one day than ever before,” executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey said in a statement. “We’ve been working on this project for the past four years now, and are deeply honored to be given this once in a generation opportunity to breathe new visual life into the Bible’s profound stories.”

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Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.