Emile Hirsch, Holliday Grainge

Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger star in the two-part miniseries "Bonnie and Clyde." (MCT)

The first part of A+E Networks' miniseries "Bonnie & Clyde," about the legendary American criminals, drew 9.8 million viewers who were spread across three of the outlets' cable channels -- History, Lifetime and A&E.

Among advertiser-targeted 25-to-54-year-olds, the telecast brought in 4.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

The miniseries' first of two parts Sunday night came up shy of History's "Hatfields & McCoys" and "The Bible." The first night of last year's "Hatfields & McCoys" scored an average of 13.9 million viewers; "The Bible's" opener brought in 13.1 million.

"Bonnie & Clyde," which stars Emile Hirsch as Clyde Barrow and Holliday Grainger as Bonnie Parker, is A+E's first attempt at simulcasting across the three networks. History's telecast drew the highest viewership with 3.7 million, while Lifetime brought in 3.1 million and A&E had 3 million.

PHOTOS: Cable versus broadcast ratings

The three-way split allowed the company to spread the programming costs across three channels, though the tactic raises the question of whether keeping the series to one network could have generated a bigger number of viewers and boosted the brand of a particular network.

The second and final part of the series is scheduled to air Monday night.  

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Twitter: @rfaughnder

ryan.faughnder@latimes.com