The premiere of A+E Networks’ four-night Roots reboot logged 5.3 million viewers across History, A&E and Lifetime on Memorial Day.
The first installment, which aired simultaneously on the three networks, also got repeated two more times over the course of the evening, to cume a total of 8.5M viewers.
The crowd marks the biggest overall crowd for a cable miniseries opening in three years, since the December 2013 opening of four-hour mini Bonnie & Clyde delivered 9.8 million total viewers. But the latest adaptation of Alex Haley’s best-seller fell short of Bonnie & Clyde’s 4.2 million viewers among adults 25-54 viewers. Roots logged 2.1M in that demo, as well as 1.8M 18-49 year old viewers. Bonnie & Clyde also had been simulcast on Lifetime, A&E and History.
And, like Bonnie & Clyde, Roots was no match for the record highs of History’s first two miniseries: Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible.
Hatfields & Mc Coys opened on Memorial Day in 2012 with 13.9 million viewers. The Bible premiered with 13.1 million viewers tune in, in March of ‘2013. The Bible and Hatfields & McCoys aired only on History, for which Bonnie & Clyde originally had been developed.
Last night’s Roots ratings likely were impacted by Game 7 of NBA playoffs which, in turn, could boost L+3 stats.
And, to the surprise of no one, Roots‘ opening crowd did not challenge the ratings performance of the original 1977 ABC miniseries, which had amassed an historic 130 million viewers back when the broadcast networks – except Fox which had not yet launched, dominated airwaves.
The new look at Roots, which begins with the abduction in Africa of Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby) and spans decades to include the American Civil War, is unfolding over four consecutive nights, with a different director helming each night, including Phillip Noyce, Mario Van Peebles, Thomas Carter and Bruce Beresford.
“This project has helped shape the discourse around race and identity at a time when it is needed more than ever. We are looking forward to audiences continuing to experience this powerful and important event over the next three nights,” Nancy Dubuc, President & CEO of A+E Networks said today in a statement.