History Channel Has Another Ratings Winner On Its Hands With Project Blue Book

project blue book history aidan gillen
(Image credit: Image courtesy of History)

History found success in the scripted TV game with Vikings, and now the network has another original scripted hit thanks to Project Blue Book. The new series stars Aidan Gillen of Game of Thrones fame and chronicles investigations into UFOs and related phenomena. A big question was whether there was an audience for such a series on History, and now, the truth is out there. Project Blue Book is an early hit for History.

In Live+3 day calculations, Project Blue Book's series premiere attracted an audience of 3.5 million total viewers. The debut episode, which aired on January 8, was therefore the most-watched scripted cable series premiere of the 2018-2019 TV season so far. In the important 25-54 age demographic, 1.2 million people tuned in, placing it at the top in the rankings in that demo as well. What a way to start 2019 for History!

Admittedly, there's still plenty of time left in the 2018-2019 TV season for the record to potentially be broken, but these early Nielsen numbers (via Deadline) are definitely encouraging. The viewership numbers place the Project Blue Book premiere ahead of the first episode of Dirty John, which premiered on Bravo back in November 2018 and set a network record with two million total viewers.

Additionally, the first episode of Project Blue Book accumulated nearly two million more viewers when later airing viewership could be calculated. Between the official premiere, the encore that aired directly after, and the two late night/early morning showings that followed, Project Blue Book was watched by 5.2 million viewers total. Not a bad beginning for History's latest scripted show!

There are a number of factors that likely worked in Project Blue Book's favor, not the least of which is that an early January premiere date was never likely to be too crowded with exciting TV options. Although more and more shows have begun returning earlier in the new year than in seasons past, it may not have had too much competition.

The fact that the series stars Aidan Gillen undoubtedly didn't hurt either. Fans of Game of Thrones saw Gillen's acting range over his years as Littlefinger; although he won't reprise that role for the eighth and final season, fans could find him back on the airwaves with Project Blue Book. In fact, he's back on the airwaves sooner than any of his Game of Thrones castmates were back in their roles! (We're waiting until April on that front, unfortunately.)

There's also plenty of appeal in the premise of the show. Aidan Gillen plays a brilliant professor who is recruited by the U.S. Air Force to lead the military's investigations into UFOs and other unexplained phenomena. Somebody call Mulder and Scully! Or at least the folks at Hawkins Power and Light!

In all seriousness, each episode of Project Blue Book actually pulls from real-life government files that were once top secret. So, it's kinda sorta history on History! The network recently announced that Vikings' end is nigh, although a spinoff is in the works. Knightfall will premiere its second season in 2019 with none other than Mark Hamill on board. History's scripted slate could be quite interesting moving forward.

Tune in to History on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET for new episodes of Project Blue Book. For more offerings on the way to the small screen, check out our midseason TV premiere schedule!

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).