Presidents Day weekend turned out to be a perfect time for National Geographic Channel to launch “Killing Lincoln,” as its first original factual drama drew the net’s largest-ever audience.
Nielsen estimates that “Killing Lincoln,” based on the book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard and starring Billy Campbell as Abraham Lincoln and Jesse Johnson as John Wilkes Booth, averaged 3.4 million viewers over its two-hour premiere Sunday night. That puts it ahead of the previously most popular program on the net, “Inside 9/11,” which drew 3 million in August 2005.
“Killing Lincoln” also averaged about 1 million adults 25-54, nearly triple NatGeo’s average on Sunday nights this season and the net’s biggest draw in the demo since “SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden” last November. Executive producers on “Killing Lincoln” were Tony Scott and Ridley Scott, as well as David W. Zucker, Mary Lisio, Mark Herzog, Erik Jendresen and Bill O’Reilly. It was directed by Adian Moat and written by Erik Jendresen.
The success of “Killing Lincoln” comes as the Steven Spielberg-directed “Lincoln” basks in its 12 Academy Award nominations. Pic surpassed $175 million domestically at the B.O. over the weekend.
Up next for NatGeo is six-part event “Inside Combat Rescue,” which was promoted extensively during “Killing Lincoln.”