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MAR
4
2 YEARS

TV Ratings: 'The Bible' Brings 13.1 Million to History, 'Vikings' Opens to 6.2 Million

UPDATED: Part 1 of the religious mini ranks as cable's top entertainment broadcast of 2013, while the network's scripted debut marked the year's biggest launch.

The Bible Key Art History Channel - H 2013
History Channel

History had a big night with the debuts of docudrama miniseries The Bible and scripted series Vikings. The former brought in 13.1 million viewers in its inaugural telecast, while the latter opened to a strong to 6.2 million.

Ranking as cable television's top entertainment broadcast of the year, The Bible's first two-hour installment also averaged 4.6 million adults 25-54 -- giving the network its biggest hauls since last summer's juggernaut mini, Hatfields & McCoys, by both counts.

TV REVIEW: 'The Bible'

"Leading into the premiere, we had the best day ever on History.com, and The Bible trended No. 1 on Twitter," noted A+E Networks entertainment and media president Nancy Dubuc. "Clearly there is a nationwide groundswell that was waiting for this moment."

The Bible, a 10-hour mini that will continue airing Sundays on History through Easter, was created and executive produced by Mark Burnett and wife Roma Downey, who also stars as the Virgin Mary.

As History's first scripted series -- and second scripted effort after Hatfields & McCoys -- Vikings stands as more of a long-term investment for the cable network -- and its launch, while less than The Bible's, is no less significant.

STORY: A+E's Nancy Dubuc on 'Liz & Dick': I'd Do It Again

The time slot premiere also brought 2.7 million adults 25-54 and 2.5 million adults 18-49 -- placing it above all competition on broadcast TV and making it cable's biggest launch of the year among total viewers and the older adults demo.

Vikings is an incredible win for History, our first scripted series," added Dubuc. "We began this journey over six years ago, when we set sail to broaden the genre of History and now we are the only cable network to have achieved this amazing level of success in both nonfiction and scripted genres. ... We knew our audience had an appetite for this unexpected storytelling and it was a big bet that paid off.”

TV REVIEW: Vikings

Vikings' 10-episode first season comes to History from MGM TV and executive producers Michael Hirst and Morgan O’Sullivan (The Tudors), John Weber of Take 5 Productions, Sherry Marsh, Alan Gasmer and James Flynn -- with Julian P. Hobbs and the recently promoted Dirk Hoogstra as the executives in charge of production for History. It stars Gabriel Byrne, Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick and Jessalyn Gilsig, among others.

History shattered network records in 2012 with the three-day miniseries Hatfields & McCoys, which rose to 14.3 million viewers in its final night.

Email: Michael.OConnell@THR.com; Twitter: @MikeyLikesTV