Even airing across multiple networks, the "Roots" remake doesn't have a shot at matching the audience record of the 1977 miniseries. We'll probably never again have a series watched by 130 million people. But the first night of the 2016 "Roots" did pretty well on History, A&E, and Lifetime (plus the Lifetime Movie Network), especially when you consider tough competition from Game 7 of NBA playoffs, the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals, and even "The Bachelorette," not to mention people just out at Memorial Day events.

According to Deadline, Monday's initial broadcast of the four-night "Roots" event was watched by 5.3 million people, and it picked up more viewers through two more repeats that night, for a total of 8.5 million viewers. As they noted, that's the biggest overall audience for a cable miniseries opening in three years, since "Bonnie & Clyde" opened to 9.8 million viewers in December 2013. Unfortunately, it didn't come anywhere near History's "Hatfields & McCoys," which also had a Memorial Day opening in 2012, and picked up 13.9 million viewers. "The Bible" also premiered high with 13.1 million viewers in March of 2013.

TV By the Numbers added that "Roots" drew 1.8 million viewers in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic on Monday, which translates to a 1.4 rating. "That will likely rank it third for the night across all of TV, behind a record-setting NBA playoff game on TNT and 'The Bachelorette' on ABC."

"Roots" aired another episode Tuesday, and continues Wednesday and Thursday. As The Hollywood Reporter noted in its story on the premiere night ratings, "The real pressure on Roots now is not necessarily to sustain its audience on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — but to grow that number with DVR and on-demand plays. A+E also is angling for prestige, premiering the mini within the window for 2016 Emmy eligibility. The critical response bodes well for that, with Roots averaging 83 out of 100 on review aggregator Metacritic."

The critics who watched it may have approved, but there are some critics who advocated for viewers to skip "Roots," in some cases because the original was considered a classic. Snoop Dogg posted an Instagram video saying he wouldn't watch "Roots" because it's time for more TV series and films about the modern successes of African-Americans, instead of more stories about slavery. That post went viral just before the premiere, and it's possible it had an affect on viewers. "Roots" producer Will Packer responded to critics of the remake, telling the Tallahassee Democrat, "I don't think we should get too comfortable as a country, as a society or as a race of people. I think this is a story that's important enough it should be told in repeated ways."

"Roots" continues from 9 to 11:21 p.m. tonight.

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A 1977 miniseries based on Alex Haley's book tells the story of African teen Kunta Kinte, brought to America to be enslaved, and the generations of his family. Read More

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