Factual-skewing network History is celebrating after claiming the title of number one non-fiction entertainment network in the US for 2012.
However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that its numbers, and subsequent audience levels, were undoubtedly enhanced by the superb performance of its first scripted drama, Hatfields & McCoys.
The three-part miniseries, which starred Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton in this fact-based series about the 19th Century feud between two families, shattered cable viewing records when it first aired over three nights in May.
An average of 13.8 million people tuned in every night, with a total audience of more than 62 million.
All three parts now make up the top three entertainment telecast of all time in ad-supported cable history among total viewers.
History’s other key shows include reality series Pawn Stars, American Pickers, Swamp People and Ax Men.
A+E Networks-owned History is now set to build on its scripted fare with its first ever scripted series Vikings, a nine-part drama that will premiere in the US on March 3, 2013.
The story is filled with conflict, warfare and bloodshed but is a family saga at heart, the network said. It follows a farmer and family man who holds ambitions to discover new civilisations.
It is written by Michael Hirst, who exec produces with Morgan O’Sullivan, John Weber, Sherry Marsh, Alan Gasmer, James Flynn and Sheila Hockin.
Vikings is produced by O’Sullivan’s World 2000 and Weber’s Take 5 Productions. MGM Television holds international distribution rights.