History's official foray into scripted programming is a decisive victory for the network.
Even during its premiere on ratings-unfriendly Memorial Day, the first outing of the three-night miniseries Hatfields & McCoys pulled in a record-breaking 13.9 million viewers during its inaugural telecast at 9 p.m. That number marks a new nonsports high for ad-supported cable networks.
Fast cable ratings give a total audience of more than 17 million, including the encore, with demo scores of 5.8 million among adults 25-54 and 4.8 million with adults 18-49.
Hatfields & McCoys, starring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as patriarchs of America's most famous feuding families, marked a scripted debut for History -- which abandoned the miniseries The Kennedys last year before it eventually aired on ReelzChannel.
“With all the success we have had at History, we felt strongly for some time that we should own historical drama, and in true History fashion, we have done it, with -- pardon the pun -- guns a-blazin'," said History president and GM Nancy Dubuc. "We couldn’t be more proud of the entire cast and crew -- this has been an amazing collaboration -- from Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Mare Winningham, Powers Boothe, Tom Berenger and everyone involved in truly making history."
Parts two and three of the mini air at 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.
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