PBS Series AMERICAN MASTERS and FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., Reach Record Number of Viewers
AMERICAN MASTERS Exceeds 6 Million Viewers and FINDING YOUR ROOTS Over 16 Million Viewers
PBS announced today that AMERICAN MASTERS and FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., two major series from THIRTEEN, New York’s public television station celebrating its 50thanniversary this year, proved to be viewer favorites this spring, breaking previously held records and consistently delivering above average ratings respectively.
The May 14 broadcast premiere of AMERICAN MASTERS “Johnny Carson: King of Late Night” was seen by an average audience of 6.3 million viewers (4.4 average household rating), including repeat broadcasts and DVR viewing within 7 days, according to Nielsen. That’s 214% higher than the season to date PBS primetime average of 1.4 (2.1 million viewers), to beat the series’ previous record of 3.7 held by both “Carol Burnett: A Woman of Character” (5.5 million viewers in 2007) and “Jack Paar: As I Was Saying…” (4.8 million viewers in 1997) by 19%. This ratings success crowns “Johnny Carson: King of Late Night” as the highest-rated and most-watched AMERICAN MASTERS in the series’ 26-year history. Indicative of its broad appeal, the audience was divided equally between women (50%) and men (50%).
“We are thrilled with the ratings for ‘Johnny Carson.’ It makes perfect sense that the biggest star television ever produced was seen by more people than any of our other AMERICAN MASTERS,” says series creator and executive producer Susan Lacy. “In April, 3.5 million people combined tuned into our ‘Margaret Mitchell’ and ‘Harper Lee’ broadcasts, showing that there is a large audience with an appetite for the breadth of AMERICAN MASTERS programming – how gratifying that we have this support!”
FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., the latest series from the Harvard scholar, which premiered March 25 – May 20, averaged nearly 2.5 million viewers (1.8 household rating), 29% higher than the PBS primetime average of 2.1 million viewers (1.4 household rating). With 97% TV household coverage, the ratings for the 10-part series were consistent, with each of the 10 episodes delivering above average ratings. Of the 10 episodes, “Episode 6 Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey, Jr.” and “Episode 7 Samuel L. Jackson, Condoleezza Rice and Ruth Simmons” delivered the highest number of viewers, 3 million and over 2.9 million (both a 2.1 average rating), respectively. Reaching a minority audience, 12% of the viewing households were black, 50% higher than found watching PBS Prime programming (8%). The series’ cumulative audience (unduplicated) across all 10 episodes was 16.6 million viewers.
“In ‘Finding Your Roots,’ we were able to combine the use of the most sophisticated genealogical research along with cutting-edge advances in genetics to uncover the most surprising—and often long-hidden—connections and stories both on our guests’s family trees, and even between guests in the series who had absolutely no idea that they were related,” says executive producer Henry Louis Gates, Jr. “Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of making this series is the discovery that, in the end, we are all related, that Americans who didn’t look alike or who didn’t share the same religions have been inextricably connected since the beginning of our Republic and long before, in fact. Our series delights in unveiling the roots and branches of our country’s, and our world’s, collective family tree. And we look forward to producing our second season.”
About AMERICAN MASTERS
Award-winning biography series AMERICAN MASTERS celebrates our arts and culture. Created and launched in 1986 by Executive Producer Susan Lacy, the series set the standard for documentary film profiles, accruing widespread critical acclaim: 23 Emmy Awards, including for Outstanding Primetime Non-Fiction Series eight times since 1999; 12 Peabody Awards; an Oscar; three Grammys; and the 2012 Producers Guild Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television. AMERICAN MASTERS is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding for AMERICAN MASTERS is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Jack Rudin, Vital Projects Fund, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, and public television viewers. For more information on AMERICAN MASTERS, visit http://pbs.org/americanmasters.
AMERICAN MASTERS “Johnny Carson: King of Late Night” is a co-production of Peter Jones Productions, Inc. and THIRTEEN’s AMERICAN MASTERS for WNET. Writer/Director/Producer: Peter Jones. Director/Editor/Producer: Mark Catalena. Producer: Brian Tessier. Narrator: Kevin Spacey. Music: Earl Rose. AMERICAN MASTERS Series Creator and Executive Producer: Susan Lacy. The film is streaming now on PBS Video and available on iTunes. The DVD and Blu-Ray with bonus material will be available July 17 via PBS Distribution.
About FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.
The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. The series builds on the success of African American Lives (2006), African American Lives 2 (2008) and Faces of America (2010), journeying deep into the ancestry of remarkable individuals. The 10-part series is streaming now on PBS Video. The DVD will be available on July 17 via PBS Distribution. The run time of the program is 600 minutes and it comes on three discs. For more information on FINDING YOUR ROOTS,
FINDING YOUR ROOTS WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., is a production of Kunhardt McGee Productions, Inkwell Films and WNET in association with Ark Media. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Stephen Segaller, Peter Kunhardt, and Dyllan McGee are executive producers of FINDING YOUR ROOTS. Rachel Dretzin is senior producer. Leslie Asako Gladsjø is senior story editor. Corporate funding is provided by The Coca-Cola Company, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s and American Express. Additional funding is provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Ford Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Support is also provided by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS.
New York’s WNET is America’s flagship public media outlet, bringing quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. The parent company of public television stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and the new online newsmagazine MetroFocus.
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