‘Genius’: Aretha Franklin TV Biopic Delivers Nat Geo Franchise’s Highest Ratings EVER

Published: Friday 2nd Apr 2021 by Rashad

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin was no stranger to ruling over radio and charts during her 50+-year career, and now her legacy reigns over TV ratings courtesy of the critically acclaimed National Geographic series, ‘Genius.’

Toplined by EMMY, GRAMMY, and TONY Award-winning singer-actress Cynthia Erivo (alongside a cast of familiar faces that includes T.I., Luke James, Tweet, Omar Dorsey, Crystal Rucker, and the late Gospel legend Duranice Pace), the four-part miniserieschronicled Franklin’s humble Memphis beginnings to worldwide fame on the backs of hits ‘Respect,’ ‘Never Loved a Man,’ ‘Think,’ and more.

Despite the legend’s estate vocalizing their disappointment for being excluded from the biographical venture’s conception and planning, their protests did little to quell viewership as updated ratings reports reveal the 8-episode venture is the franchise’s most watched edition to date.

Details inside:

Viewership Average: 1.10 Million

Airing March 21-24, ‘Genius: Aretha’ – which was delayed by a year from its original air date – courted an average of 1 million viewers across an 8-episode run (2 million per night).  Its lowest viewed chapter generated 930,000 viewers while its highest conjured 1.382 million – making the latter the most viewed ‘Genius’ episode of the entire franchise to date (which dedicated previous seasons to Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso).

Ranking in the top 10 highest-rated scripted cable programs per night, the show’s viewership numbers were only outdone by the likes of sports entertainment and live news broadcasts.

Look below to see how many eyes each episode drew:

‘Genius: Aretha’ Viewership

Night 1:

  • Episode 1: 1.38 million viewers
  • Episode 2: 1.37 million viewers

Night 2:

  • Episode 3: 1.04 million viewers
  • Episode 4: 1.07 million viewers

Night 3:

  • Episode 5: 980,000 viewers
  • Episode 6: 1.03 million viewers

Night 4:

  • Episode 7: 930,000 viewers
  • Episode 8: 1.03 million viewers


The TV event is not to be mistaken the Franklin’s forthcoming big screen biopic, toplined by ACADEMY and GRAMMY Award-winning singer-actress Jennifer Hudson.

Click here to learn more about that.

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  1. Frankfurt April 3, 2021

    It was a wonderful series. Great job done by all. Long live the queen!!!

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  3. Mr RCW April 3, 2021

    I absolutely loved it!!! Awesome job by the cast!!! The bar has been set super high…I hope the movie lives up to the series!!!

  4. Mike April 3, 2021

    I came with negative thoughts first before watching it due to She looks nothing like Aretha. But I watched every episode and I must say she is an excellent actress and did an amazing job. Everything was great. Jennifer has to come 10 x harder now.

  5. Anne April 3, 2021

    Her vocals were average compared to Aretha, but I enjoyed it and thought she and the rest of the cast were good. I’ve been a fan of Aretha’s music for a long time, since the late 80s or very early 90s, and collected a lot of her older music, but from the series I learned a lot about her personal life that I wasn’t aware of. She really has a long story to be told. I wonder if Jennifer’s movie will have even more pieces of the puzzle to offer or just a repeat of the same…we’ll see. I’m also interested in seeing how Jennifer will handle the vocals. I wish really both of the films featured Aretha’s own irreplaceable vocals with the actress lip syncing but I think Jennifer will at least do a better job with the vocals IF she doesn’t over sing and holler too much…we’ll see about that as well.

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