'Roots' Remake Featuring SA Actors Pulls Big Ratings For History Channel in the US

A+E's remake of Roots may not have a chance of duplicating the now-unfathomable ratings highs of the original 1977 miniseries, but the latest adaptation of Alex Haley's epic novel got off to a very strong start on Monday night — despite aggressive competition.

The show premiered to 5.3 million total viewers across a four-channel simulcast. The first episode aired on History, Lifetime, A&E and LMN.

That number was enough to make “Roots” 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.

The combination was strong enough to make the Memorial Day debut in the United States the best cable miniseries opener since 2013.

In the 25-54 demographic, this “Roots” debut landed 2.1 million viewers. Among those 18-49, the count was 1.8 million.

Over the course of three telecasts on the night, 8.5 million watched the episode. That total will grow in three- and seven-day delayed viewing totals, obviously, and probably quite significantly.
“‘Roots’ represents what television can do when it’s at its best,” Nancy Dubuc, president & CEO of A+E Networks, said. 
“This project has helped shape the discourse around race and identity at a time when it is needed more than ever. We are looking forward to audiences continuing to experience this powerful and important event over the next three nights.”
The rebooted tv series story of Kunta Kinte - a Gambian man captured and enslaved in America in the 1700’s features African actors such as Zimbabwean actor Peace Nzirawa, who plays Kunta’s uncle, with South Africans Nokuthula Ledwaba, who plays Kunta’s mother, and veteran actress Nandi Nyembe.

Nandi Nyembe and Nokuthula Ledwaba star in this American Mini Series

Part of the historical drama was filmed on location in KwaZulu-Natal and also includes some of our own local tv production talent. 

In a completely different era of TV, ABC’s inaugural broadcast of the original “Roots” in 1977 drew 28.8 million people.

HISTORY channel will be opened to DStv’s Compact subscribers across Africa from Monday, 13 June to Monday 11 July.

Roots will also be repeated on Lifetime on Sundays at 8pm from 19 June, following its debut on HISTORY.

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