Return of popular Australian-made shows signals start of real ratings race

The Nine Network is set to launch its Australian-made programming big guns after the Easter break led by the third installment of Underbelly and the return of Hey Hey It’s Saturday following its successful reunion episodes last year.

The launch of Australian-made programming will soon provide a clearer picture of whether the drop in ratings among the free-to-air channels has been a result of the change in the OzTam panel which now takes into account time-shifted viewing or because many of the big-rating Australian shows are yet to return to air.  

Last year, Underbelly was the most-watched regular program for 2009 with an average audience of 2.127 million. It was followed by Seven’s Packed to the Rafters with 1.872 million. The third most-watched show was Ten’s MasterChef – Challenge with 1.736 million.

The first reunion episode of Hey Hey, 10 years after it was last on TV, attracted 2.2 million viewers. It streaked ahead of Ten’s Celebrity MasterChef which had 1.4 million, according to OzTam data in the main metro markets.

The second Hey Hey Reunion episode again attracted 2.2 million, but was marred by controversy over a Red Faces segment which saw five contestants paint their faces black.

MasterChef, which this week revealed its sponsors, is also due to return to Ten imminently.

Underbelly: The Golden Mile will premier on April 11 at 8:30pm, while Hey Hey will air on April 14 at 7:30pm. Nine’s Sea Patrol also returns on April 15 at 8:30pm.

Underbelly will go head-to-head with Ten’s MasterChef – Challenge episodes if the cooking show returns to the Sunday night time slot it was scheduled in last year.

Meanwhile, Seven is yet to reveal the return date of its popular Packed to the Rafters series.


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