The program was seen by 13.1 million total viewers in Sunday's 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. time slot with 1.7 million more caught the encore presentation later that night.
"The success of 'The Bible' has catapulted History into one of the most powerful brands across media landscape and we could not be more thrilled and more proud," Nancy Dubuc, president of entertainment and media for A+E Networks, said in a statement Monday. "We are the No. 1 cable entertainment telecast of the year to date! Leading into the premiere we had the best day ever on History.com, and 'The Bible' trended No. 1 on Twitter. Clearly there is a nationwide groundswell that was waiting for this moment."
"We could not be more thrilled with this out of the gate success of 'The Bible' on History," Downey and Mark Burnett said in a joint statement. "The world is watching right. ...
"Today, more people are discussing God's chosen people -- Moses and Abraham -- in one day than ever before."
"The Bible" is to continue airing in the next four Sundays, culminating on Easter.
In April, the series will be released on Blu-ray and DVD with hours of exclusive special features.