'The Hot Zone' Sets Ratings Records for National Geographic

The Hot Zone came in hot for National Geographic.

The limited series starring Julianna Margulies put up big ratings numbers for the Disney-owned cable network, becoming the highest-rated scripted series in National Geographic's history and ranking second among all series.

The three-night, six-hour series, based on Richard Preston's book of the same name about a 1989 viral outbreak at a primate quarantine center in Virginia, drew a 0.82 rating in Nat Geo's core demographic of adults 25-54 (including three days of delayed viewing). That tops the first season of Genius, the previous record-holder for a scripted show on the channel. It's also just shy of Nat Geo's top-performing series ever, The Story of God With Morgan Freeman.

The Hot Zone also averaged just under 2 million viewers in three-day Nielsen tallies and boosted Nat Geo's primetime viewership by more than 350 percent over the previous six-week average.

“While of course we are thrilled that viewers responded to this series in such a positive way, we also hope that it inspires them to learn more about the current Ebola crisis in Africa,” said Carolyn Bernstein, executive vp global scripted content and documentary films for National Geographic.

Nat Geo says that across 12 broadcasts (originals and replays), 7.5 million people sampled The Hot Zone. More than half of the show's audience (56 percent) returned day to day.

The Fox 21 and Scott Free production also stars Noah Emmerich, Topher Grace and Liam Cunningham. Kelly Soulders and Brian Peterson executive produce with Lynda Obst, Ridley Scott, David Zucker and director Michael Uppendahl.