Ratings Megaweek Day 1: Strong return of Nine’s Underbelly marks start of TV ratings war

In what many in the industry have called the ‘real’ start of the ratings race – post-Winter Olympics and Easter off season – Nine last night fired the first free-to-air salvo with Australian drama Underbelly leading the pack.  

The premier episode of Underbelly – The Golden Mile saw an average of 2.237m viewers tune in during its first hour at 8:30pm, making it the highest-rating program launch in the year to date, according to preliminary overnight OzTam data in the main metro markets.

With the inclusion of regional viewers, Underbelly scored an average of 3.04m across episode one, and 2.797m for episode two.

In the 7:30pm slot it was up against Seven’s US crime show Bones, which had 1.172m viewers in the metro markets, while Ten’s The Good Wife was well behind with 809,000, markedly down from the 1.4m viewers it attracted in its launch episode in February.

The second episode of Underbelly at 9:30pm saw 2.071m viewers tune in, again streaking ahead of Seven’s The Castle and Ten’s House.

Underbelly also dominated across all key demographics, taking the night’s top two spots in every market across people aged 25-54, 16-39 and 18-49.

The strong result for the show may now also shed some light to questions over the fall in viewers this year.

It has so far been unclear whether the shift has been due to genuine changes in viewing behaviour and the fall in popularity of the shows, or alterations to the OzTam panel at the start of the year to take in time shifted viewing (TSV).

Meanwhile, the return of observational documentary The Force: Behind the Line on Seven saw it attract 1.319m in the metro markets, not far off from the 1.346m it averaged last year.

The return of Underbelly and The Force spearheads the launch of other new shows on the free-to-air networks this week.

Wednesday night at 7:30pm will see the return of Hey Hey It’s Saturday following successful reunion episodes last year. It will run into Seven’s premier of war epic The Pacific at 8:30pm.

Seven will bring its heavily promoted Australia’s Got Talent back on Tuesday at 7:30pm, which will compete against Nine’s high-rating Top Gear.

Nine’s Sea Patrol also returns this Thursday at 8:30pm which will go up against Seven’s Cougar Town and Ten’s Law & Order: SVU.

Nine is planning to bring back its popular renovation show The Block this year; while Seven’s Packed to the Rafters is yet to be scheduled and Ten’s top-rating cooking show Masterchef will air on Monday.

Sunday’s channel share:

  • Nine: 35.2%
  • Seven: 25.2%
  • Ten: 16.9%
  • ABC1: 9.8%
  • GO!: 5.4%
  • SBS1: 2.7%
  • 7TWO: 2.5%
  • One: 1.2%
  • ABC2: 0.5%
  • ABC3: 0.2%
  • SBS2: 0.3%

Sunday’s most-watched shows:

1. Underbelly – Episode 1 Nine 2.237m

2. Underbelly – Episode 2 Nine 2.071m

3. Seven News Seven 1.745m

4. 60 Minutes Nine 1.496m

5. Nine News Nine 1.422m

6. The Force Seven 1.319m

7. Sunday Night Seven 1.309m

8. Border Security Seven 1.274m

9. Domestic Blitz Nine 1.184m

10. Bones Seven 1.172m

11. Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation Ten 1.106m

12. The Biggest Loser Ten 0.882

13. Castle Seven 0.831

14. The Good Wife Ten 0.809

15. ABC News ABC 0.786


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