NBC Snags Mark Burnett's 'Bible' Follow-Up Series

UPDATED: "A.D.: Beyond the Bible" will take place in the days after Jesus' death.
"The Bible"

Mark Burnett is bringing his follow-up to the hugely successful miniseries The Bible to NBC.

A.D.: Beyond the Bible continues NBC's valuable relationship with Burnett, who executive produces The Voice. It also marks the first project under NBC's new long-form programming initiative following former ABC long-form executive Quinn Taylor's move to the Peacock network as executive vp movies, miniseries and international co-productions in mid-June.

STORY: Mark Burnett Prepping 'The Bible' for Theatrical Release

A.D.: Beyond the Bible, from Burnett and wife Roma Downey, begins in the days after Jesus' betrayal and death. With NBC partnering to bring the follow-up to broadcast, the network is hoping to duplicate the success History Channel had with The Bible. The 10-parter debuted to 13.1 million viewers March 3, before wrapping up Easter Sunday with 11.7 million.

Since its release on DVD and Blu-ray in April, The Bible has become the top-selling miniseries of all time, having sold more than 1 million units in the past three months.

In April during NBCUniversal summer press day, Burnett hinted to The Hollywood Reporter that a follow-up project was already in the works, with the stories falling "in the same world." "We feel there is a void, and we're filling that void," he said at the time.

History opted to move on from the follow-up project, instead putting its focus on original miniseries already on its slate, like Houdini with Adrien Brody.

“NBC is thrilled to bring this highly anticipated sequel to Mark and Roma’s The Bible to network television,” said Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment. “There was huge interest in this project within the television community, and NBC is gratified by Mark’s confidence in our ability to partner with him and position this miniseries as true event television.“

STORY: Mark Burnett Confirms 'The Bible' Follow-Up Project

 “I followed the development process of The Bible closely with Mark and knew that the story was far from over after Christ’s crucifixion. In fact, what happened in the aftermath -- which is essentially the beginning of Christianity -- is utterly fascinating," said Bob Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment. "The day after The Bible premiered, I told Mark we were on board with no hesitation for the follow-up miniseries. This will be attention-getting in every way, and we’re proud to continue our association with Mark, which has just grown exponentially from The Voice.”

“We are thrilled to be working with Bob, Jen and Quinn Taylor to bring the follow-up to our hit cable series The Bible to broadcast television with NBC," said Burnett and Downey in a joint statement  "Our new series, A.D.: Beyond the Bible, is another massive project and a major commitment, but it’s a story that has to be told. It’s a story that changed the world. We look forward to making this an enormous television event on NBC."

A.D. Beyond the Bible will be executive produced by Downey, Burnett and Richard Bedser. It is a co-production between Downey's and Burnett's LightWorkers Media, Hearst Productions and Universal Television. (Hearst Corporation owns 50 percent of A&E Networks — consisting of networks like History, Lifetime and A&E — and has a 50 percent stake in Mark Burnett Productions.)

There has been renewed interest in long-form programming, with networks adding a growing number of limited series to their respective slates (Fox's 24: Live Another Day and Cosmos, FX's Fargo, ABC's How to Survive a Plague, to name a few).

Religion-based programming, both on the scripted and unscripted side, is attracting viewers -- especially on cable. The success of The Bible has proven that there is a demand for such faith-based series. "We knew the subject area [was of interest to] our viewers and beyond," History executive vp development and programming Dirk Hoogstra told THR earlier this year.

E-mail: Philiana.Ng@THR.com
Twitter: @insidethetube