BBC America should be very happy with the premiere of “Planet Earth: Blue Planet II,” the special event delivered 2.95 million viewers over a five-network simulcast Saturday night in Nielsen live/same day ratings. That makes the show the most watched nature program on ad-supported television in nearly eight years, and it offers an increase of 45% in total viewers over last year’s Planet Earth II premiere.

According to the network, the 9pm simulcast ranked among the top 5 programs in the time-slot across all of television, including a #2 rank on cable. The premiere was also BBC America‘s most-watched unscripted telecast ever, with an audience on the network of 1.2 million. With one encore, nearly 1.6 million viewers watched the episode on the network on premiere night.

Sarah Barnett, BBC AMERICA President, commented: “It is not hyperbolic to say that Planet Earth: Blue Planet II is groundbreaking television, as astonishingly entertaining as it is important. How fantastic that so many gathered together for this event premiere across AMC Networks. This kind of rare growth in viewership is a testament to the excellence of the filmmaking, which captures the magic and mystery of our oceans in a way that is as real as it gets yet feels at times as otherworldly as science fiction, so unbelievable are some of the creatures you see. We urge everyone to stay for the rest of the season on BBC AMERICA – you’ll barely blink.”

The premiere was carried across the five national networks of AMC Networks, including BBC America, AMC, SundanceTV, IFC and WE tv. The premiere was the #1 cable show for the night in social conversation and #2 across all of television, second only to Saturday Night Live. Across all social platforms, the program generated 224,000 engagements on the day. Planet Earth: Blue Planet II now ties Emmy winner Planet Earth II and Academy Award winner OJ: Made in America as the best reviewed unscripted series of all time, with a Metacritic score of 96. The series continues with the second episode at 9pm on Saturday, January 27 on BBC AMERICA.

The special event series comes from producer James Honeyborne, and once again features Sir David Attenborough as the narrator. BBC America described the series adding, “Planet Earth: Blue Planet II takes viewers on a revelatory and magical journey into the mesmerizing world of our oceans – the most undiscovered place on our planet.” The network added, “There is more life in the deep sea than anywhere else on Earth, and yet it is said we know more about the surface of Mars than the depths of our own planet. By using cutting-edge breakthroughs in science and technology to explore this final frontier, the series reveals the astonishing characters, otherworldly places and extraordinary new animal behaviors. Warm and compelling stories about marine habitats and their characterful inhabitants will build people’s emotional relationship with our oceans and bring a new perspective to this little-known world.”

Planet Earth: Blue Planet II is made by BBC Studios’ Natural History Unit, co-produced with BBC America, WDR and France Télévisions in partnership with The Open University. It is Executive Produced by James Honeyborne and Series Produced by Mark Brownlow, and was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual.

Viewers can now watch the first episode for free on demand, on and on the BBCA app.