National Geographic Channel’s adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s book Killing Jesus, nabbed 3.7 million viewers across Sunday night — the biggest audience in history. The channel noted that the 8 PM premiere’s 1.0 rating in adults 25-54 is the highest rating for that demo since the net’s November 2013 premiere of O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy, which clocked a 1.1, and 300% higher than NatGeo’s Sunday 8-11 PM average this calendar year.
The film also premiered last night on Nat Geo Mundo in the U.S., and will air globally in 171 countries. And, Fox News Channel will repeat Killing Jesus this Friday at 8 PM and on Easter Sunday at 8 PM.
Fox News Channel star O’Reilly wrote Killing Jesus with Martin Dugard. Their two earlier books, Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln, also were adapted for NatGeo and had been the two most watched programs in the network’s history until last night’s Killing Jesus unveiling. Killing Kennedy nabbed 3.4 million viewers in its November 2013 launch, and Killing Lincoln had clocked 3.35 mil in February 2013. Before the Killing franchise came NatGeo’s way, NatGeo’s largest crowd came way back in August 2005 with Inside 9/11 which had logged an initial 3 mil.
Last night’s numbers were good news for NatGeo’s new series The Big Picture With Kal Penn, debuting tonight, and Neil deGrasse’s new late-night talk show StarTalk, debuting April 20; both shows were promoted heavily during the Killing Jesus premiere.
Cast of Killing Jesus included Kelsey Grammer as King Herod the Great; Stephen Moyer as Pontius Pilate; Haaz Sleiman in the title role as Jesus; Rufus Sewell as Caiaphas; Emmanuelle Chriqui as Herodia; Eoin Macken as Antipas; and John Rhys Davies as Annas.