'The Bible" on History Channel Draws Heavenly Ratings Despite Scathing Reviews
The Bible, from producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey has helped make History Channel one of the most watched networks on TV. Last week's episode 3 drew nearly 11 million viewers, with 4.2 million Adults 25-54 and 3.5 million Adults 18-49, according to Nielsen. The entire miniseries has drawn an estimated 70 million total.
Despite scathing reviews from critics, the show is expected to draw even more viewers leading up to the Crucifixion scene in the Easter Sunday finale.
The success of The Bible reveals acute demand for religious programming that's often overlooked by Hollywood.
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"We often forget that Christians are still the largest special interest group in America," says Hollywood producer and Christian media advocate Phil Cooke.
"Whenever they rally behind a movie, TV series, product, or cause, something big happens," he adds, pointing to the message sent by Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ." Within months, he adds, "nearly every studio in Hollywood had opened a faith-based division," hoping to capitalize on that market.
Survivor producer Mark Burnett said he pushed The Bible because he believed there is a growing "Biblical illiteracy" among younger generations.
"It's like saying you never heard of Macbeth or King Lear," he said. "In school, you have to know a certain amount of Shakespeare, but no Bible. So there's got to be a way to look at it from a pure literature point of view. If it wasn't for the Bible, arguably Shakespeare wouldn't have written those stories."
Tune in this Sunday at 8/7c for The Bible on History Channel. Episode 4 will feature 'The Last Supper', Judas' betrayal, and Pontius Pilate.
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