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History's ‘Hatfields & McCoys' Debuts With Nearly 14 Million Viewers

History's miniseries Hatfields & McCoys made history Monday, averaging 13.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen fast cable data.

Should the numbers hold, Hatfields & McCoys would compile a new record audience for an ad-supported basic-cable show (not sports or news), according to History officials.

ESPN's Monday Night Football franchise has exceeeded that mark on numerous occasions,and the 1993 NAFTA debate between then-Vice President Al Gore and Ross Perot hosted by Larry King recorded 16.3 million viewers, according to CNN.

But Hatfields & McCoys shot up TNT western Crossfire Trail, which drew 12.5 million for the Tom Selleck-starrer on Jan. 21, 2001; the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, whichgarnered 12.4 million viewers on Aug. 28, 2011 and picked up another 1 million watchers, gauged on a live + 7 basis; and part of CNN's Election Night 2008 coverage, which tallied with 13.4 million viewers from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

In addition to MNF and the debate, the above-mentioned programs were also surpassed by a pair of telefilms from Disney Channel, whose programming runs without commercials: High School Musical 2 attracted 17.2 million viewers on August 17, 2007 and over 18.6 million on a live + 7 basis, while the Wizards of Waverly Place Movie conjured 13.5 million on August 28, 2009.

History's three-part miniseries (click here for MCN's review), which stars Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as the heads of the respective fueding Hatfield and McCoy clans, also drew 5.8 million adults 25 to 54 and 4.8 million adults 18 to 49, according to the network. More than 17 milion people watched both the premiere and encore telecasts on Memorial Day.

Parts two and three of the miniseries are scheduled to air on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, respectively.

"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! 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!" said Nancy Dubuc, president and general manager for History, in a prepared statement.