Underbelly: articles

Underbelly Australia's most watched TV program launch ever

THE second series of Underbelly has made TV history, knocking off Kath and Kim to become Australia's most watched TV program launch ever.

A national audience of 2.584 million viewers tuned into the debut of the crime drama prequel last night on the Nine Network.

The audience peaked at 2.8 million viewers.

The figures are the largest for any TV program launch in Australia since OzTam began collecting TV ratings data in 2001.

Australian comedy Kath and Kim previously held the top spot, from its 2007 launch when it picked up 2.511 million viewers on the Seven Network.

Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities also smashed the record for the biggest launch of an Australian drama by an impressive 500,000 viewers.

The record had been held by Always Greener's launch to 2.065 million Australians in 2001, on Seven.

The figures come amid much hype and publicity for the crime drama, which is a prequel to last year's hugely successful first series about Melbourne's gangland wars from 1995 to 2004.

Starring Matthew Newton, Roy Billing and Kate Ritchie, the 13-part series follows the rise of organised crime and the booming heroin trade in Sydney and Melbourne in the 1970s and 1980s.

Last night's episodes introduced the audience to New Zealand drug trafficker Terry "Mr Asia" Clark, and Australian drugs boss Robert Trimbole.

It focused on the disappearance and murder of anti-drugs campaigner and Liberal Party candidate Donald Mackay in the NSW regional town of Griffith.

The second hour continued to draw in viewers, with 2.419 million Australians continuing to watch.

In the same timeslot at 8.30pm, US series Desperate Housewives on the Seven Network had 971,000 viewers and Australian panel show Good News Week on Network Ten attracted 761,000.

Meanwhile, the premiere of Nine Network's new border control show, Customs, had an impressive debut with more than 1.5 million viewers. It screened before Underbelly.

Nine smashed its competitors on Monday with a 39.5 per cent audience share, and is now on target to take out the first week of the official ratings battle.

Seven was second with a 23.7 per cent audience share, while Ten had a 16.7 per cent share.

The ABC was fourth with a 13.8 per cent share followed by SBS on 6.3.

February 10, 2009
Herald Sun