The History Channel's "Hatfields & McCoys" miniseries, starring Kevin Costner, broke several cable TV records during its 3-day run.
The miniseries premiered on May 28 with over 13.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen's cable ratings. Over 17 million people watched the debut and encore telecast on Memorial Day evening.
The second night of the miniseries was watched by 13.1 million viewers, outperforming the NBA Playoffs. The third and final part of the series topped both previous nights, with 14.3 million total viewers and became the most-watched non-sports telecast ever for basic cable.
In "Hatfields & McCoys," which is based on one of America's greatest feuds, Costner plays Anse "Devil" Hatfield, whose West Virginia family is involved in a decades-long feud with the McCoys of Kentucky. Bill Paxton plays his adversary Randall McCoy. Hatfield and McCoy actually fought alongside each other during the Civil War in the Confederate army. Hatfield abandoned the fight and eventually went on to succeed in business. The feud began when McCoy's brother Asa -- who fought in the Union army -- was killed by Hatfield's uncle Jim Vance.
"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!" Nancy Dubuc, President and General Manager of the History Chanel said in a statement. "We couldn't be more proud of the entire cast and crew - this has been an amazing collaboration - from Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Mare Winningham, Powers Boothe, Tom Berenger, and everyone involved in truly making history!"
Costner, who is somewhat of an American history buff, was excited to take on the role of the feuding patriarch.
"I didn't try to over think it. It was the piece that spoke to me loudest of the things I was reading and so you'd have to respond that way," the 57-year-old actor told OnTheRedCarpet.com in a recent interview at the premiere in Los Angeles. "When I said yes, I meant it and everybody realized I was serious and then everybody started signing up, so maybe I take -- I don't know what credit I can take, I don't really need any credit. You know, the film speaks for itself, I really enjoy the actors."
Bill Paxton, who is likely best known for his role on "Big Love," said he knew when Costner signed on that the miniseries was going to be quality entertainment.
"When I was approached to do this last year, History came to me and told me what they were going to do and I thought well this is going to be a landmark production. With Kevin Costner on board I knew that it was going to be quality," he told OnTheredCarpet.com. "I think they've upped the ante here and I hope this bodes well for other productions like this. 'Cause there's a lot of good actors ready to tell some great stories... I'm hoping it does very well and from what I've seen it's going to do very well."
"Hatfields & McCoys" was the scripted debut for History, which abandoned last year's miniseries "The Kennedys," featuring Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes. "The Kennedys" eventually aired on ReelzChannel.
"Hatfields & McCoys" is set for release on DVD and Blu-Ray on July 31. Check out a preview below.