A&E said its new documentary-like series about youthful offender programs set a record Thursday as the most-watched original series premiere in network history. "Beyond Scared Straight" drew 2.2 million adults 18 to 49 and 3.7 million total viewers.
The 90-minute premiere saw audience growth each half-hour culminating with an average of 3.9 million total viewers in its 11 p.m. half-hour.
Hour-long episodes will air Thursdays at 10 p.m.
Bob DeBitetto, who oversees A&E, stated that the series is "groundbreaking" and the "audience response is extremely rewarding ... [it] exemplifies our unique brand of highly engaging programming with a focus on excellent storytelling and first-class auspices."
On Jan. 12, A&E original "Storage Wars" posted its most-watched episode with 2.8 million total viewers in its first season.
"Beyond Scared Straight" is based on an Academy Award-winning documentary "Scared Straight!" It explores programs that "put at-risk teens of all ethnicities into intensive one-day in-prison sessions." By showing them the unfiltered realities of life behind bars, the show hopes to keep them out of prison.
Separately, as A&E sister network History pulled a scripted miniseries about the Kennedys, it will return to its documentary roots and air "Reagan" as a two-hour special Feb. 9. The show examines the trajectory of Reagan's 93 years -- from his nomadic youth in the Midwest, his Hollywood career, and his election as Governor of California and president to the end of his life.