“Saints & Strangers” isn’t National Geographic Channel’s first voyage into scripted waters, but it may be its most significant. The four-hour miniseries, which follows the success of “Killing Jesus” and “Killing Kennedy,” was shot primarily in South Africa with an estimated budget of $11 million — not a lot by HBO or Netflix standards, but enough to signal that NGC wants to be seen as more than just a home for reality series. It’s not the first time a cable outlet has tried to make a big splash with a miniseries. Other major launches include:

‘Hatfields & McCoys’

Seen on: History Channel (2013).

Success: Legendary family feud attracted nearly 14 million viewers, making it one of the most watched non-sports broadcasts in cable history.

In the works: “Roots” reboot, “War and Peace,” both of which will also premiere simultaneously on Lifetime and A&E.


Seen on: Discovery Channel (2014).

Success: Struck gold, averaging more than 3 million viewers for each of the project’s three chapters, giving the channel its best month ever.

In the works: “Harley-Davidson,” a look at how two childhood chums in Milwaukee got America’s motor runnin’.


Seen on: Spike TV (2015).

Success: An attempt to chuck the channel’s stodgy male-only theme worked, with 81 percent of the audience consisting of new viewers.

In the works: “The War at the Shore,” a project produced by Kevin Spacey’s company, chronicles the battle between Donald Trump and Steve Wynn to be bard of the boardwalk in Atlantic City.

Neal Justin