‘Hatfields & McCoys’ makes ratings history for History

Kevin Costner might want to consider a permanent move to the small screen. His star turn in History channel’s “Hatfields & McCoys” premiered last night to record numbers for ad-supported cable: 13.9 million total viewers.

That’s bigger than any non-sports telecast in ad-supported cable history, according to History. In demos, “Hatfields” drew 5.8 million viewers 25-54 and 4.8 million viewers 18-49.

It’s even more impressive for handily trouncing all broadcast network competition (Monday night’s most watched show was NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” with 10 million viewers).

There’s precendent for Western success on basic cable. AMC’s “Broken Trail” scored 9.8 million viewers in 2006 and TNT’s “Crossfire Trail” had 12.5 million viewers in 2001. While “Hatfields” surpassed those successes, it did trail the 17.2 million viewers for Disney Channel’s “High School Musical 2” in 2007. Since Disney is not ad-supported, History can still claim the record.

History’s extensive promotional campaign and a smart Memorial Day holiday tie-in surely gave a boost to “Hatfields,” which also stars Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe and Mare Winningham.

“Hatfields & McCoys” continues tonight and concludes tomorrow night 9 p.m. ET on History.