‘Into the West’ draws 6.5 million

TV News | Jun 14th, 2005

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LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) — TNT is riding high in the saddle with its limited series “Into the West,” as Friday’s opening installment corralled 6.5 million total viewers.

The combination of the two-hour opener’s viewership at 8 and 10 p.m. grabbed 9.6 million, with millions more expected to have tuned in for replays Saturday and Sunday. Each of the six weekly installments will get a triple play over the course of their respective weekends.

The initial interest will come as validation for “West,” a Western drama with an estimated $100 million budget. Steven Spielberg is attached as executive producer through DreamWorks Television.

“We are very proud that viewers are responding so favorably to this dramatic tale and that our strategy of offering multiple telecasts each weekend is already paying off in such a big way,” said Steve Koonin, executive VP and chief operating officer at TNT and TBS. Both networks are units of Time Warner, as is CNN.

But though “West” opened strong enough to top the total-viewer haul in primetime of all the broadcasters but NBC on Friday, the drama did little to lower TNT’s median age. Nearly three-quarters of the viewers for the 8 p.m. premiere were older than 50.

TNT made a point of reaching out to younger viewers in the marketing for “West” via an aggressive marketing campaign that focused on young stars like Keri Russell, and the romantic element of life back in the olden days.

Spielberg managed to top his own last major cable venture, the Sci Fi Channel miniseries “Steven Spielberg Presents Taken,” which premiered to 6.1 million in 2002.