By Lisa de Moraes
“Killing Jesus” nabbed 3.7 million viewers across Sunday night — the biggest audience in National Geographic Channel history. The channel also noted the 8 PM premiere’s 1.0 rating in the adults 25-54 demo is the highest rating for that demo since the net’s November 2013 premiere of “Killing Kennedy,” which clocked a 1.1, and 300% higher than NatGeo’s Sunday 8-11 PM average this calendar year.
The film also premiered last night on Nat Geo MUNDO in the U.S., and will air globally in 171 countries. And, Fox News Channel will repeat “Killing Jesus” this Friday at 8 PM ET/PT and on Easter Sunday at 8 PM ET/PT.
Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly wrote, with Martin Dugard, the best-selling book on which the movie is based. Their two earlier books, “Killing Kennedy” and “Killing Lincoln,” also were adapted for NatGeo, and had been the two most watched programs in the network’s history until last night’s “Killing Jesus” unveiling. “Killing Kennedy” nabbed 3.4 million viewers in its November 2013 launch, and “Killing Lincoln” had clocked 3.35 mil in February 2013. Before the “Killing” franchise came NatGeo’s way, NatGeo’s largest crowd came way back in August 2005 with “Inside 9/11” which had logged an initial 3 mil.
Last night’s numbers were good news for NatGeo’s new series “The Big Picture With Kal Penn,” debuting tonight, and Neil deGrasse’s new late-night talk show “StarTalk,” debuting April 20; both shows were promoted heavily during the “Killing Jesus” premiere.
Cast of “Killing Jesus” included Kelsey Grammer as King Herod the Great; Stephen Moyer as Pontius Pilate; Haaz Sleiman in the title role as Jesus; Rufus Sewell as Caiaphas; Emmanuelle Chriqui as Herodia; Eoin Macken as Antipas; and John Rhys Davies as Annas.