‘Killing Jesus’ Slays Nat Geo Record With 3.7 Million Viewers

Three-hour special brought-in a 2.8 household rating

National Geographic Channel had a great Sunday one week ahead of Good Friday: The cable channel’s premiere of “Killing Jesus” drew 3.7 million total viewers, the highest number in the cable channel’s history.

Furthermore, the 8 p.m. three-hour premiere garnered a 2.8 household rating — the second-highest in network history — and a 1.0 among adults 25-54. That latter Nielsen figure is the highest in the demo since November 2013’s “Killing Kennedy,” and is more than 300 percent higher than the timeslot’s 180-minute average thus far this year.

“Killing Jesus,” based on the book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, encores on Fox News Channel this Friday, April 3, at 8 p.m. ET and Easter Sunday, April 5, at 8 p.m on both coasts. The TV movie, produced by Scott Free Productions, goes inside the historical story of how Jesus’ message and preachings led to his persecution and execution by a group of conspirators who saw him as a threat to their power.

The film is the third collaboration between NGC, Scott Free and O’Reilly, who in addition to “Jesus” and “Kennedy” teamed on “Killing Lincoln.” Walon Green wrote this script, Chris Menaul directed the TV movie.

“’Killing Jesus’ was our most ambitious production to date, coupled with one of our largest cross-platform promotional campaigns,” said National Geographic Channels CEO Courteney Monroe. “We are thrilled that audiences responded to the film with the same enthusiasm and passion we had for this production since day one. The success of our premiere last night is due to the hard work and dedication of the production team on the ground in Morocco, the talented and versatile cast and the support of our partners at National Geographic and Fox.”

The film also premiered last night on Nat Geo MUNDO in the U.S., and will air globally in 171 countries in 45 languages.

Kelsey Grammer starred on “Killing Jesus” as King Herod the Great; Stephen Moyer as Pontius Pilate; Haaz Sleiman in the title role of Jesus; Rufus Sewell was Caiaphas; Emmanuelle Chriqui played Herodia; Eoin Macken portrayed Antipas; John Rhys Davies was Annas; Abhin Galeya played John the Baptist; Stephanie Leonidas was Salome; Joe Doyle played Judas; Alexis Rodney was Simon (Peter); and Chris Ryman portrayed Malchus.