‘Roots’ Premiere Generates 5.3 Million Viewers

Totals viewers include History, Lifetime, LMN and A&E simulcasts

Related: What History wants you to know about Roots

The first night of History’s miniseries Roots averaged 5.3 million viewers combined across four network airings, A+E executives said Monday.

History's reboot of the classic 1970’s miniseries based on Alex Haley’s classic novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family was watched by 2.1 million adults 25-54 and 1.8 million adults 18-49, said network officials. The first of four episodes debuted against very stiff Memorial Day competition, including TNT's record-setting Golden State Warriors-Oklahoma City Thunder Game 7 NBA Western Conference Finals telecast.

Still, History's Roots premiere episode is the biggest debut for a cable miniseries since History's Bonnie & Clyde debuted to 9.3 million viewers in 2013. The record is held by History's 2012 Hatfields & McCoys premiere, which generared 13.9 million viewers.

 Including three additional airings of the episode, Roots generated 8.5 million viewers for the evening. The second episode of Roots will air tonight (May 31) on History, with subsequent episodes airing on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Roots represents what television can do when it’s at its best,” said Nancy Dubuc, President & CEO of A+E Networks in a statement.  “This project has helped shape the discourse around race and identity at a time when it is needed more than ever. We are looking forward to audiences continuing to experience this powerful and important event over the next three nights.”