TV Ratings: 'Roots' Wraps Steady Run With 4.2 Million Viewers

Roots Still Publicity H 2016
Steve Dietl/HISTORY

Roots had a respectably steady four-night run, despite ample competition from the NBA and the start of broadcast's summer reality blitz.

The miniseries, simulcast on sister networks History, A&E and Lifetime, concluded Thursday night with 4.2 million viewers. No same-day showing matched Monday's 5.3 million-strong premiere, but the interim marked a very stable string for the eight-hour event. Tuesday's installment averaged 4.6 million viewers, while Wednesday climbed back up to 4.8 million viewers.

Roots' beginning and end faced especially rough counterprogramming from basketball. Monday's Game 7 of the Western Conference broke cable records with 16 million viewers, and Thursday started on an even stronger note for ABC's run of the Finals. That game, likely a factor in Roots closing on a low, averaged 19.2 million viewers.

With a budget near $50 million, Roots will have to perform on several other levels to be a true success for A+E Networks. On top of the pivotal ratings lifts that live-plus-3 and live-plus-7 data will reveal, the project is also a prestige play — premiering just within the window of Emmy eligibility. Emmy voting kicks off June 13, with nominations for the 2016 show set to be announced July 14.

The original Roots set a pretty unrealistically high bar for ratings. The original 1977 adaptation of Alex Haley's novel opened on ABC as one of the most watched programs in television history, with 28.8 million viewers. The eight-part event, immediately a cultural phenomenon, wrapped with an even higher 36.4 million viewers.