Up until now, the year’s big cable-ratings story has been the ever-growing success of zombie drama The Walking Dead on AMC. Sunday night, though, History channel had the highest-rated scripted drama on cable for the year, for the beginning of a story in which only one main character rises from the dead, and that not until nearly the end.
The first two hours of History’s Mark Burnett miniseries adaptation of The Bible scored 13.1 million viewers, more than any fiction cable show of the year–and, as the New York Times notes, dwarfing anything on NBC for the past month. (The biblical epic numbers did not quite match The Walking Dead in viewers aged 18 to 49, the demographic that determines advertising rates, but it did get a healthy 5.6 million.)
Those are the kinds of numbers that get TV executives’ attention, and “attention” in the TV business means copying. Last year, History pulled meganumbers with Hatfields and McCoys; now NBC is developing a Hatfields and McCoys series. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see more religious epics coming to TV–stories aimed, like The Bible miniseries, at the comfort zone of believers. (I haven’t watched the entire History miniseries, but the first two hours were sort of a Picture Bible come to life, with the Old Testament violence dialed up and the Old Testament sex dialed down, and the kind of stiff dialogue that avoids seeming to “disrespect” Biblical figures by making them sound like people rather than animatronic figures.)
So we may see more TV for religious believers as a result of The Bible. What I’d love to see–but am not so sure we will–is more TV about religious believers.Read the rest here