Last Sunday night, the first episode of the mini-series Killing Jesus scored the largest number of viewers in the entire history of the National Geographic Channel. A couple years ago History Channel’s mini The Bible scored a similar upset; and this year, many anticipate that the sequel to The Bible, A.D.: The Bible Continues, premiering on NBC Easter Sunday night – like The Bible, produced by Survivor creator Mark Burnett and Touched by an Angel star Roma Downey — will be just as successful. And not to be outdone, CBS is offering The Dovekeepers, a mini-series about the heroic Jewish defiance of the Roman siege of Masada in 73 A.D.
While it’s wonderful that the Easter holiday is filled with positive and family-friendly programming, it is unfortunate that such programming comes around only twice a year (Easter and Christmas). Recently, NBC President of Entertainment Jennifer Salke said in apparent astonishment, “There was a misconception of looking at those things as being niche and not realizing they actually represent an enormous part of our country that is not finding programming that speaks specifically to them.”
According to the U.S. Census, approximately 75% of Americans describe themselves as Christians. It would seem to be a no-brainer for ratings-starved networks to appeal to a “niche” which makes up three-quarters of the nation – but by and large, they don’t. Maybe the “daring” and “edgy” creative programmers and network executives in Manhattan and Hollywood out to come out of their bubbles a little more often, and take a chance on airing programming the overwhelming majority of the country actually wants to see.