Between pulling in Bill Paxton and Kevin Costner for an epic feud event and creating a nearly perfect preview – featuring Costner’s band’s music, nonetheless – History was sitting pretty on its first scripted miniseries, Hatfields & McCoys. With people off of work, I expected the Hatfields & McCoys miniseries to do well on its first of three nights; however, most people probably underestimated exactly what the term “well” means for the cable network.

During its first run at 9 p.m. ET Monday, the first segment of the miniseries brought in a whopping 13.9 million viewers, which also translates into a 4.8 rating in the 18-49 demographic. THR is reporting after its second run, the program ended up pulling in over 17 million total viewers for the night, which is far higher than most shows earn even on network TV. The numbers are impressive, but so is the title the program has earned: The first night run earned higher numbers than any non-sports telecast in cable history.

History’s other original programming has done pretty well in the past, but 5 million viewers per Pawn Stars installation pales in comparison to the numbers Hatfields & McCoys seems to have the potential to bring in during its 3-night run. We’ll have to wait to see the numbers History releases over the next couple of days; however, if the ratings remain even half as high, I would still expect to see more original scripted programming get the greenlight on the cable channel in the future.

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