As factual channels move further into scripted drama series, US cable channel History is showing its rivals how to do it.
Now its first scripted series, Vikings, is making its mark by landing the number one cable series debut of the year.
More than 18 million viewers tuned into see part or all of the two airings of Vikings in the US last Sunday, beating all of its cable and broadcast competitors on the night.
Vikings is a nine-part drama that tells the stories of the lives and adventures of the eponymous warriors, traders and explorers through the eyes of Viking society.
The show was created and written by Michael Hirst (The Tudors), who executive produces with Morgan O’Sullivan, John Weber, Sherry Marsh, Alan Gasmer, James Flynn and Sheila Hockin.
It is an Irish/Canadian coproduction from World 2000 and Take 5 Productions. MGM Television holds distribution rights outside Ireland, Canada and the US, with the series already lined up to air on History in Canada.
The success of Vikings comes as History’s factual rival Discovery Channel prepares its own push into scripted drama.
It is currently casting its first original miniseries Klondike, which will be produced by Scott Free Productions, Discovery, Entertainment One and Nomadic Pictures.
Based on Charlotte Gray’s novel Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich In The Klondike, it tells the story of six strangers and their fight for survival in a remote frontier town.
Here’s a trailer for Vikings: