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'The Bible' miniseries finishes strong five-week run

Published: Monday, April 1 2013 12:45 p.m. MDT

This publicity image released by History shows Diogo Morcaldo as Jesus, center, being baptized by Daniel Percival, as John, in a scene from "The Bible." The History network's first installment of the miniseries "The Bible" was seen by 13.1 million people Sunday, March 3.

Joe Alblas, Associated Press

"The Bible" miniseries on cable channel History wrapped its robust five-week, 10-hour run on Easter night with an intense depiction of Jesus' crucifixion and joyous rendering of his resurrection.

"Twitter lit up during the visceral scenes of torture, with many declaring the heart-breaking depiction of Jesus Christ's sacrifice had caused them to break out in floods of tears — with some people taking to the social networking site to share pictures of their distress," James Nye reported for The Daily Mail, a British publication. "The outpouring of grief over a story whose ending most people in the Western world know the ending to is testament to the astonishing success of the 'The Bible' which has caught many seasoned television experts off guard."

Indeed, "The Bible" is no stranger to success: The March 4 series premiere attracted 13.1 million viewers — more people than watched any given major-network program during that entire week, and the biggest ratings of the year for a cable program. Each of the next three episodes also eclipsed 10 million viewers while finishing first or second in their Sunday night timeslots. For Sunday's finale, 11.7 million people tuned in.

"History’s 'The Bible' miniseries finale delivered the show’s largest audience since its record-setting premiere," James Hibberd wrote for Entertainment Weekly. "The network reports that 11.7 million viewers watched the two-hour conclusion on Easter Sunday, despite 'The Bible' airing against heavy cable competition during its second hour — AMC’s 'The Walking Dead' had its season finale and HBO’s 'Game of Thrones' had its season premiere, with both (shows) setting ratings records."

Earlier this month the Christian Science Monitor's Gloria Goodale wrote, "(Production company) Horizon Media (said) some 50 million viewers tuned in to at least some portion of the program over the first three weekends of its run. … The runaway success of the Judeo-Christian-themed show reveals an appetite for religious programming that is consistently overlooked in Hollywood."

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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