Film, TV & Stage

Roots remake starring UK actor Malachi Kirby draws 5.3 million viewers – highest figure for a premiere

HISTORY: British actor Malachi Kirby stars as Kunta Kinte in the remake of classic, Roots

HISTORY: British actor Malachi Kirby stars as Kunta Kinte in the remake of classic, Roots

THE HISTORY Channel’s Roots remake, starring British actor Malachi Kirby in the role of Kunte Kinte, drew a healthy 5.3 million viewers.

It was also screened on channels A&E and Lifetime, and collectively, over its three telecasts, the premiere episode averaged 8.5 million viewers.

The impressive numbers were despite the premiere falling on the same day as a heavily-watched NBA Thunder/Warriors playoff basketball game, which likely took some potential audiences away from Roots, meaning that there’s a chance that the 5.3 million may have been an even higher number on another night.

In spite of that, Roots became the most-watched scripted miniseries premiere in Nielsen (live-plus-same day ratings) in three years — since 2013’s Bonnie and Clyde which premiered on HISTORY and sister networks A&E and Lifetime.

Based on Roots: The Saga of an American Family written by the late Alex Haley and first published in 1976, the series tells the story of Kunta Kinte, captured as an adolescent and sold into slavery in the United States, and follows his life and the lives of his descendants in the U.S. down to Haley.

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