TODAY   |  March 31, 2013

'The Bible': The Good Book’s big hit

Success of “The Bible,” a miniseries on The History Channel based on the books of the Bible, is paving the way for religious-themed entertainment. After the Sunday finale, an estimated 100 million people worldwide will have watched the series. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

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>>> suddenly, the bible is the hottest thing around. it is one of the most popular miniseries right now to hit the airwaves in a long time. the " bible " has millions tuning in every sunday night. that number really expected to be just as high tonight when the show's finale airs. so what's the fascination with the story that's as old as time? kristin bellgrin takes a look.

>> god warned me! he told me to build a boat.

>> reporter: it's been called the greatest story ever told, and it seems the " bible " hasn't lost its touch.

>> i think that what this miniseries shows is that if you make it good and you make it appealing, that the audience will show up to watch religious-themed entertainment.

>> reporter: and the audience has done more than just show up. after tonight's finale, an estimated 100 million people worldwide will have watched the history channel miniseries, some hosting viewing parties, using study guides, and tweeting. the actor who plays christ is trending under the hashtag hotjesus. for executive producers bark burnett and his wife, roma downey , who stars as mary, it was a no-brainer.

>> you think about it, shakespeare wouldn't have existed really without the bible .

>> no.

>> what, 1,200 quotes in it. clearly, " lord of the rings ," none of these movies would exist without the bible .

>> reporter: it's not the first time hollywood has found religion. "ten commandments" and " passion of the christ " were among the most financially successful films ever. and now, it seems americans are clamoring for more.

>> moses?

>> moses is absolutely right.

>> reporter: the american bible challenge is the highest-rated program on the game show network .

>> we live in a country where more than 75% of the population identifies themselves as christians. the clearly underserved in mainstream media , and they are hungry for entertaining and spiritual programming.

>> reporter: and after the " bible 's" success, more religion-inspired shows and movies are already in the works. an old story finding new life and millions of fans along the way.

>> israel!

>> reporter: for "today," kristin dahlgren, nbc news, laeng.