Editor’s Note: The History Channel’s “The Bible” has drawn criticism regarding its factual accuracy compared to the Scriptures. The following story addresses its popularity and impact on the culture.
NASHVILLE (BP) — History Channel’s “The Bible” miniseries debuted with impressive numbers that likely will capture the attention of other television executives, drawing 13.1 million total viewers on Sunday (March 3) to become the No. 1 entertainment telecast on cable so far this year.
It also was the top show Sunday night on either broadcast or cable TV.
The popularity of the program had a ripple effect, giving History.com — the network’s website — its best day ever and also leading to “The Bible” becoming the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter that day.
The five-night series will be telecast over the next four Sundays, concluding Easter.
Media websites took notice of the miniseries’ popularity. BusinessWeek.com posted a story with the headline, “How the History Channel Turned ‘The Bible’ Into a Blockbuster.” Time.com and several other websites posted stories calling the miniseries a “hit.”
“Those are the kinds of numbers that get TV executives’ attention, and ‘attention’ in the TV business means copying,” Time’s James Poniewozik wrote. “Last year, History pulled meganumbers with Hatfields and McCoys; now NBC is developing a Hatfields and McCoys series. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see more religious epics coming to TV — stories aimed, like The Bible miniseries, at the comfort zone of believers.”
Two professing Christians, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, are the executive producers.
“The world is watching right now and we are incredibly humbled by the reaction to the series,” Burnett and Downey said in a press release. “This #1 series is a tribute to all those who have helped us to spread the Word. Ultimately THE BIBLE will be seen and felt by billions around the globe.”
Downey told the radio program “For Faith & Family” that the “intention of making this series was to glorify God.”
Cable “entertainment” broadcasts comprise a category that includes scripted programming but excludes sports and news.