'Life,' 'Breaking Bad' start strong; Jason Priestley digitized

life-hummingbird.jpg "Life" began Sunday in front of a rather large audience.

The Discovery Channel event -- which also premiered on sister networks like TLC and Animal Planet -- averaged 9.4 million viewers on Sunday (March 21), Discovery says. That's the most-watched premiere on Discovery since "Walking with Dinosaurs" and "Raising the Mammoth" 10 years ago.

We'll find out from Nielsen on Tuesday just how many of those 9.4 million viewers were actually tuned into Discovery (probably a majority of them).

The critically praised and beautifully photographed 11-hour series, a co-production with the BBC, showcases plants and animals struggling to live in detail few people have ever seen. "Life" continues for the next several weeks.

- Elsewhere on cable Sunday night, the season 3 premiere of AMC's "Breaking Bad" scored its biggest audience ever.

The show starring Emmy winner Bryan Cranston drew 2 million viewers in its 10 p.m. debut and added 1.3 million more with a pair of repeats later in the night. That's a 17 percent bump over its premiere last season.

- Jason Priestley will host an awards ceremony for the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences -- and get a trip to the south of France in the bargain.

Priestley will host the International Digital Emmys in Cannes on April 12. The actor-director best known for "Beverly Hills 90210" will be joined by presenters including "Everwood" star Gregory Smith, "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan and "Reaper's" Missy Peregrym. "Heroes" creator Tim Kring will receive a Pioneer Award from the academy for "his contribution to the fields of digital television and cross-platform entertainment with 'Heroes Evolutions.'"

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Related:

'Life' trailer and sneak peeks: Yikes! Ew! and Whoa!
'Breaking Bad': Vince Gilligan on Walt's health, when the series might end

Photo credit: Discovery