About 2.7 million viewers watched Sunday's television premiere of the first movie about the US commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden, AFP reports according to the National Geographic Channel.
"SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden" caused a stir when it was announced in October that it would screen on the American cable channel just two days before the US presidential election.
Fueling the buzz was the fact that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, a prominent fundraiser for President Barack Obama, was among the backers of the 90-minute action thriller.
The National Geographic Channel, part of conservative media tycoon Rupert Mudoch's global empire, said "SEAL Team Six" was its top-rated show of this year, and the sixth most watched in its history.
"If this film had been in theaters this weekend, it very likely could have been the number-one movie in America," the channel's president Howard Owens said in a statement.
Obama appears often via archive footage in the documentary-style film, but director John Stockwell dismissed talk that it might sway voters.
"It was never written or shot to do that," he said in an interview last week.
Netflix added "SEAL Team Six" to its streaming video lineup ahead of the movie's theatrical release in non-US markets. The film will also get an encore presentation on the National Geographic Channel on Friday.
Bin Laden, the late Al-Qaeda leader, ordered the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington in 2001. His May 2011 death when US Navy SEALs raided his hideout in Pakistan was a defining moment of Obama's first term in the White House.
Another feature film about the hunt for bin Laden, "Zero Dark Thirty" by director Kathryn Bigelow, who won an Oscar with the Iraq war film "The Hurt Locker," is due for general release in cinemas in January.