The first installment of History's "Hatfields & McCoys" had 13.9 million total viewers, setting a new record for non-sports, ad-supported cable programs.
The first installment of the miniseries, starring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as the patriarchs of the infamously feuding families, beat the previous scripted ad-supported basic cable record set in 2001 by TNT's "Crossfire Trail," which had 12.5 million total viewers. A CNN election night telecast in 2008 drew 13.2 million total viewers.
The first "Hatfields &McCoys" installment had 4.8 million viewers in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic, and 17 million total viewers watched it in either its premiere or encore airing.
The strong viewership represents a big success for the channel after it abandoned plans to air "The Kennedys" among complaints from the family's supporters.
"With all the success we have had at History, we felt strongly for some time that we should own historical drama, and in true History fashion, we have done it, with – pardon the pun – guns ablazin!," said Nancy Dubuc, president and general manager of the network.
The second and third installments will air tonight and Wednesday.