Roots was made into a television miniseries that aired over eight consecutive nights in January 1977. ABC network television executives chose to "dump" the series into a string of airings rather than space out the broadcasts, because they were uncertain how the public would respond to the controversial, racially charged themes of the show. The series garnered enormous ratings and became an overnight sensation. Approximately 130 million Americans tuned in at some time during the eight broadcasts. The concluding episode on January 30, 1977 has been ranked as the third most watched telecast of all time by the Nielsen corporation.
The cast of the miniseries included LeVar Burton as Kunta Kinte, Leslie Uggams as Kizzy, and Ben Vereen as Chicken George. A 14-hour sequel, Roots: The Next Generations, aired in 1979, featuring the leading African-American actors of the day.
In December 1988, ABC aired a two-hour made-for-TV movie: Roots: The Gift. Based on characters from the book, it starred LeVar Burton as Kunta Kinte, Avery Brooks as Cletus Moyer, Kate Mulgrew as Hattie Carraway, and Tim Russ as house slave Marcellus (all four actors later became prominent as leading actors in the Star Trek franchise).
In May 2007, BBC America released Roots as an audiobook narrated by Avery Brooks. The release coincided with Vanguard Press's publication of a new paperback edition of the book, which had gone out of print in 2004, and with Warner Home Video's release of a 30th-anniversary DVD-boxed set of the mini-series.
In November 2013, the History channel announced that it was developing an eight-hour Roots miniseries with Mark Wolper, son of the original show's original producer David L. Wolper. This version will combine elements from both Haley's book and its 1977 adaptation.