By RACHEL C. DOVE
WILLIAMSON - “I’ve got some awesome news to share with you,” said West Virginia University Extension Professor Bill Richardson during a phone conversation with the Daily News on Wednesday. “The Hatfields and McCoys mini-series attracted a monster audience Monday night of 13.9 million viewers, the second largest ever for a cable program that didn’t involve sports!”
Richardson had every right to feel an immense amount of pride and success, considering he has been working diligently toward this goal for the past ten years. Now, he is seeing the fruits of his labor blooming in splendor even he did not expect.
The Neilson ratings released on Tuesday show the only other cable entertainment show to have more viewers than the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s was the Disney Channel’s showing of “High School Musical 2,” which drew an audience of more than 17 million.
Those that tuned in to watch the highly anticipated mini-series that the History Channel had been promoting for the last 2 months attracted 4.8 million viewers in the age group 18-49, the range that is targeted most by advertisers.
The president of the History Channel, Nancy Dubuc was quoted in a New York Times article as saying she would have been happy with three million viewers in the targeted age group, but said she would gladly take the 4.8 million numbers any day of the week.
Dubuc went on to say that no one at the network had speculated that the show could hit anything like those kinds of ratings numbers, and added that the History Channel has become a force to be reckoned with, in a time frame that used to be owned and dominated by HBO.
“We’re putting on mark on this now,” Dubuc said.
Ratings for popular shows such as the finale for “The Voice,” NBC’s singing competition hit, attracted 10.5 million viewers, and “The Walking Dead” on AMC had an impressive 9 million tune in for their final episode in March, but none came close to the total number who tuned into the first episode of the 3 part mini-series starring Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Tom Berenger and many others.
The viewership even dwarfed their biggest competition that aired in the same time-slot on Monday, NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” which claimed 10 million
“I knew the mini-series that tells the story of the famous feud would be extremely popular, but I really didn’t expect this,” said Richardson.
“Of course, as I’ve said before, it includes tales of the conflict and hatred that was born out of the Civil War, a landmark Supreme Court case, a forbidden love story between a Hatfield and a McCoy, a court trial over the alleged theft of a hog, the list goes on and on.
“Why would you not watch it? It’s an intriguing legend that is now played out by famous actors that explains details that most local residents may not even be aware of.
“It’s truly a fascinating story.”
Richardson is proud of the positive light being cast on the Tug Valley area, and is extremely grateful for the media attention that now shines on the Southwestern portion of West Virginia and the communities of Eastern Kentucky that is greatly appreciated.
‘We’re finally getting what is due us,” said Richardson. “It’s been a long time coming but it’s here now, and we are more than ready to embrace the fluctuation of tourists we feel will come and visit our area and view the sites that are specific to the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s feud.
“We look very forward to sharing the beauty and the history of Mingo County with all those that venture to our neck of the woods to see with their own eyes what they’re watching and learning from the mini- series.
“We’re no longer an afterthought,” concluded Richardson. “We’re now a front runner as one of the top tourist attractions in the entire state, the entire tri-state region for that matter.”