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Bible

Hollywood can say what it wants, but The Bible is the top-rated cable program on Sunday nights.

The History Channel’s mini-series The Bible drew an impressive 14.1 million viewers on its first night.  Horizon media, meanwhile, said some 50 million viewers tuned in to at least some portion of the program over the first three weekends of the five part series.

The show is an outright success.  The latest installment pulled in 11 million viewers and audience retention rates are just as remarkable. To put the numbers into perspective, the premier had better ratings than The Walking Dead and every episode beat Fox’s American Idol.  If the ratings don’t impress you, they certainly confound Hollywood’s entertainment experts.

This Judeo-Christian-themed show reveals an appetite for religious programming that is consistently overlooked in Hollywood.  Did they forget that The Passion of the Christ made over $600 million to become the highest grossing R rated film in history?  Did they also miss The Chronicles of Narnia, Courageous, and Fireproof?

Some critics claim that the calendar is artificially inflating interest around the series.  I don’t see how this argument holds water.  Sure the mini-series airs during Lent and will end on Easter Sunday, but that does not speak to the desire for clean stories and religious programming every day of the year.  The content is drawing the audience, not the calendar.  Content is what drew people to the show and developed a loyal following.

The series is truly unique in that the creators wanted to honor the integrity and accuracy of Scripture.  Nancy Dubuc, president of the History Channel, told MovieGuide.com that a group of theologians and scholars were regularly consulted on the accuracy of the project. “This is probably the most important book in mankind, regardless of your beliefs or religious affiliation,” Dubuc says. “We spend a lot of time talking about this book, and probably not enough time knowing what’s in it.”

Again, that is the entire point.  People are curious about the Old Testament, the New Testament, and how the Bible impacts us.  While Hollywood has not cracked the code, people want to connect with the story of God.

Thanks to the History Channel and The Bible leadership team, people are watching the series, having conversations about the text, and finding out what the story of God holds for them.  That is the ultimate success no matter how the ratings turn out next week.

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