'Ten Commandments' Classic Dominates Saturday Evening TV; Beats 'UFC,' 'SNL'

ABC network's annual airing of the classic 1956 biblical epic "The Ten Commandments" dominated in the ratings for Saturday evening.

Despite going up against programs like "Ultimate Fighting Championship" and "Saturday Night Live," "Ten Commandments" more than held its own.

The biblical movie garnered 5.87 million total viewers, versus "UFC's" 1.99 million, "Dateline's" 4.49 million, "Criminal Minds'" 2.86 million, and "SNL's" 2.79 million.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which often monitors and comments on American entertainment, told The Christian Post that the ratings result should not be surprising.

"The American appetite for Christian fare continues to astonish the secular elites, but it shouldn't," said Donohue.

"As expected, 'The Ten Commandments,' blew away the competition … even if not all those who tuned in last year did so again this year."

Donohue added that "from TV shows such as 'Touched by an Angel' to Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ,' it has been clear for decades that there is a yearning for entertainment that is at least spiritual, and at best religious."

"It would be interesting to know how many tuned in this year for the first time, and how many of them did so because of what they heard from family and friends last year," said Donohue.

"This is a positive sign, and one hopes that it will encourage more Roma Downeys in the future."

Directed by Cecile B. DeMille and starring Charlton Heston as Moses, The Ten Commandments was first released to theatres in 1956.

Based off of the events described in the Book of Exodus, the 220 minute-long film follows Moses as he leads the enslaved Hebrews out of the land of Egypt.

Oscar winner for best special effects, "The Ten Commandments" had an estimated $13 million dollar budget and grossed about $80 million during its box office run.

ABC has been airing the classic film every Easter weekend since 1973 with 1999 as the sole exception. Reportedly, the network received much viewer criticism for that decision.

The latest television airing of the epic biblically set film came as other successes for Old Testament set productions were announced.

Over the weekend, the controversial Darren Aronofsky film "Noah" garnered about $5 million in ticket sales and remains in the box office top ten, reported

It also comes as evangelist Ray Comfort's 30-minute film "Noah-And the Last Days" passed the 1 millionth page view on

Released in late March around the time of the Aronofsky adaptation, Comfort's short movie has won a Telly Award and will be aired on 14 TV networks.

"When I saw that Hollywood had originally listed their version as fantasy, I felt compelled to produce something that would show that the story of Noah is an historical fact, despite what the mockers believe," said Comfort in a statement released Monday.

"So we placed it for free viewing on [YouTube] and the reaction has been extremely positive."

The ratings success for "The Ten Commandments" was not completely good news, however, as this year's total viewership was down seventeen percent compared to last year.

Free Religious Freedom Updates

Join thousands of others to get the FREEDOM POST newsletter for free, sent twice a week from The Christian Post.

Most Popular

Free Religious Freedom Updates

A religious liberty newsletter that is a must-read for people of faith.

More In Entertainment