‘Hatfields & McCoys’ have made history at History.
The first night of the three-part, six-hour miniseries drew 13.9 million viewers in its initial telecast Monday night, making it the most-watched non-sports program in ad-supported cable history.
When including the encore telecast, ‘Hatfields & McCoys’ drew 17.7 million. In the 18-49 demo, mini drew 4.8 million viewers and 5.8 million in the 25-54 demo.
Project details the longstanding hatred between the two rival families, with the Hatfields based in West Virginia and the McCoys situated in Kentucky.
Previous record holder was “Crossfire Trail,” a TV movie starring Tom Selleck that drew 12.5 million when it aired on TNT in 2001. Last year’s highest non-sports ad-supported cable program was MTV’s “Video Music Awards” telecast in August, which drew 12.4 million.
On the scripted side, “Rizzoli & Isles” and “The Walking Dead” had highs last year of around 9.3 million.
Kevin Costner stars as Devil Anse Hatfield and Bill Paxton plays Randall McCoy. Other co-stars include Mare Winningham, Powers Boothe and Tom Berenger.
“With all the success we have had at History, we felt strongly for some time that we should own historical drama,” said network topper Nancy Dubuc. “We couldn’t be more proud of the entire cast and crew.”
Exec producers are Dubuc, Dirk Hoogstra and Leslie Greif of Thinkfactory Media.
Episodes two and three will launch tonight and Wednesday, respectively.
“Hatfields” was promoted on many of History’s top shows — including “Pawn Stars,” “American Pickers” and “Swamp People” — as well as different series throughout the A&E conglom, including on A&E and Lifetime.
Marketing reach expanded to several mainstream magazines and the cabler even decorated a subway in New York with images from the miniseries.
History has long had success with its reality skeins but Dubuc decided the net would be well-suited to branch into scripted as well. First project that was greenlit was miniseries “The Kennedys,” which ultimately moved over to ReelzChannel after History passed.
Massive viewer number for “Hatfields & McCoys” may give History impetus to move more aggressively into the scripted space. Net already has given a full-season order to drama series “Vikings,” from MGM, with production set to begin later this summer for a 2013. Gabriel Byrne recently signed aboard in one of the lead roles.