The Bible is making the jump from cable to network TV, as Comcast’s NBC said it has struck a deal for a sequel to History’s surprise spring hit. NBC’s version will be titled A.D.: Beyond the Bible and will pick up after Christ’s death, though after that it’s pretty open.
An expensive and overtly religious production isn’t an obvious fit for a major network these days. Those channels today lean on talent-show TV, which doesn’t require high-paid actors and special effects. The Bible, though, comes with a massive built-in audience and a unique and powerful marketing machine. The 10-hour miniseries, produced by reality-TV king Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, won a huge following, in part by screening previews for religious leaders of U.S. megachurches. Before the première, some pastors even showed their flocks 90-minute making-of documentaries, while Christian groups bought ads in Times Square to tout the show.