The premiere of Lifetime’s much-talked-about docuseries Surviving R. Kelly drew 1.9 million total viewers Thursday night, marking Lifetime’s best performance in more than two years in all key demos, and amid a flurry of attention on social media.
The docuseries drew 1.2 million among adults 25-54, 1.1 million adults 18-49, 837,000 women 25-54 and 767,000 women 18-49, according to Nielsen Media Research. The docuseries also ranked as Lifetime’s best unscripted performance in more than three years in all key demos.
From the first to last half hour, Surviving R. Kelly also saw double digit growth in total viewers (+18%), women 18-49 (+19%), women 25-54 (+16%) and adults 18-49 (+13%).
The docuseries also ranked as the #1 most social primetime program across broadcast and cable for January 3, excluding sports, according to Nielsen Social Content Ratings. With over 743,000 total interactions across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Surviving R. Kelly was Lifetime’s largest social premiere for any series or movie in network history.
Surviving R. Kelly, an investigation into the controversial R&B singer, has received intense attention on social media. In the network’s official description of the six-part series, it notes that R. Kelly’s “genre-defining career and playboy lifestyle have been riddled with rumors of abuse, predatory behavior and pedophilia. Despite damning evidence and multiple witnesses, to date, none of these accusations seems to have affected him. For the first time, survivors and people from Kelly’s inner circle are coming forward with new allegations about his sexual, mental and physical abuse. They finally are ready to share their full story and shed light on the secret life the public has never seen.”
John Legend today defended his decision to speak out against Kelly in the docu, in which he said “R. Kelly has brought so much pain to so many people.” Today he tweeted it was an “easy decision” for him to speak out against the singer. “To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn’t feel risky at all,” Legend tweeted Friday after the first episode aired. “I believe these women and don’t give a f**k about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision.”
According to TMZ, R. Kelly, through his lawyer, had threatened to sue Lifetime if the network did not reverse its decision to air. So far, no lawsuit has been filed.
Surviving R. Kelly continues tonight, January 4, at 9 PM ET/PT, with the final installment of the six-part documentary series airing Saturday, January 5, at 9 PM ET/PT.