Two new shows from History are ratings successes. Sunday saw the premiere of “The Bible” miniseries as well as “Vikings,” the first original scripted drama from the network. The Sunday ratings were announced on Monday and both shows proved to be big hits.
“The Bible” miniseries premiered at 8 p.m. EST on History and earned a 6.7 household rating/10 share on Nielsen’s overnight report, notes Variety. Total viewer numbers were not available yet, but that number will have executives at History happy as “The Bible” was the No. 1 scripted program on television, beating CBS’ “The Good Wife” and placing second in all programs, only trailing behind “60 Minutes,” also on CBS.
While it earned strong ratings, critics are split about “The Bible.” In The Hollywood Reporter’s roundup of reviews from Sunday, many critics noted problems with the adaptation, such as issues with tone and just who exactly the show’s audience was supposed to be. According to THR’s television critic Allison Keene, “Unfortunately, The Bible is fractious and overwrought. Others are sure to pick apart the deviations from the sacred text, but that's just the beginning of the miniseries' issues.” Other critics cited the well-worn territory covered in the new series from History. Artistic license was another problem for several critics who noted “The Bible” included many dramatizations that proved distracting rather than illuminating.
Critical voices may mean little as viewers could tune in to the miniseries for a variety of reasons. “The Bible” is not a new drama or pilot and millions could already be committed to turning in and watching History’s big-budget program. With a strong showing for the premiere, the Mark Burnett (“Survivor”)- produced “The Bible” seems to be a success for History.
History’s other big premiere, “Vikings,” was also a ratings hit. “Vikings” aired at 10 p.m. EST and earned a 3.8 household rating/7 share according to Variety. No estimates for total number of viewers are available, so it’s unclear how many viewers tuned in to “Vikings,” but it should prove another success for History. Early reviews praised "Vikings," noting the entertainment factor as well as the charismatic performance by Travis Fimmel.
A report on “Vikings” target demographic, the 18-49 male, was not available. If that number is anywhere near close to a show such as “The Walking Dead,” which is the No. 1 show among young adults, notes Variety, History will consider their gamble on “Vikings” to have paid off.
History is also offering the chance to watch the second episode of “Vikings” before Sunday on their website.