US cable network History said its Mark Burnett-produced series The Bible delivered 14.8 million viewers through launch night and 13.1 million in its 8-10pm Sunday night slot.
Another big ticket launch, scripted series Vikings, registered 6.2 million viewers straight after The Bible, giving History a huge ratings night.
The Bible’s 14.8 million viewers over the two showings on launch night, March 3, comprised five million adults in the 18-49 demographic and 5.6 million in the 25-54 category. It is the most popular US cable series of the year so far.
The series will run over four Sundays, culminating on Easter Sunday.
Telling the stories from the bible with live-action CGI elements, it is heavily scripted, marking another step in History’s move away from a completely factual- and reality-based line-up.
Nancy Dubuc, president, entertainment and media, at History parent group A+E Networks said: “The success of The Bible has catapulted History into one of the most powerful brands across media landscape.”
Vikings, meanwhile, delivered 2.7 million adults 25-54 and 2.5 million Adults 18-49.
Its overall ratings on the night came in at 8.3 million, factoring in the repeat showing of the MGM-produced series, which was created by Michael Hirst (The Tudors) and follows a group of Viking marauders.
Following on from the Hatfields & McCoys miniseries, Vikings is History’s first original scripted project that runs to full series length.