“The Bible,” “Vikings” premieres tell a ratings epic for History


The cable network got its prayers answered by retelling two epics Sunday. First, its 10-part, Mark Burnett-produced miniseries “The Bible” premiered to 13.1 million total viewers, according to Nielsen.

That made it the No. 1 entertainment telecast of the year on cable TV.

Then, at 10 p.m., the network followed up with the initial installment of “The Vikings,” its first scripted series, which slapped horned helmets on 6.2 million viewers. Whether you believe in the Old Testament or Norse mythology, History had you covered Sunday.

To put those ratings in perspective, “The Bible” was more watched than anything on the broadcast networks Sunday, including the two-hour season premiere of Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC (5 million during the 9 p.m. hour).

In fact, “The Bible” did better than last fall’s premiere of NBC’s “Revolution” (11.6 million), considered the only new drama last year to have found an audience.

And while “The Vikings’” numbers were much more modest, they still gave the broadcast networks some powerful competition. ABC barely did better with the rollout of its new drama “Red Widow” (6.8 million during the 10 p.m. hour).