Hold the phone, Australian television isn’t dead just yet.
It just got a major shot in the arm with a whopping 2.23m viewers watching the first hour of Underbelly last night. It is the biggest TV audience so far in the ratings year.
Nine’s third series blew the opposition out of the water, also netting 2.07m for the second hour.
Updated: The first hour peaked at 2.84m and Nine claims with regional viewers the two hours averaged 3.04m viewers.
The competition was left in Nine’s dust, with 1.17m for Bones and 831,000 for Castle on Seven. TEN’s Good Wife slumped to 809,000 and House took 568,000. The ABC’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles was a mere 419,000 and Dateline on SBS was 118,000.
Nine’s good fortune didn’t end there with 60 Minutes nudging 1.5m -although Domestic Blitz‘s 1.18m was beaten by Sunday Night on 1.3m. Seven’s best figure for the night was Seven News with 1.74m while TEN’s was Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation on 1.1m.
Meanwhile on GO! Top Gear took another big 379,000 -which is very likely a record for digital channels. The Big Bang Theory pulled another big 346,000. GO!’s 5.4% share was bigger than the entire combination of SBS ONE, ABC2, ABC3, ONE and SBS TWO. It more than doubled 7TWO’s 2.5%.
The result of both Nine and GO! saw the Nine Network carve up a staggering 40.6% share last night, thrashing Seven’s 27.7% and TEN’s 18.1%.
But the news is also a win for the industry and viewers.
It proves yet again that Australian viewers do want to see Aussie stories on their screens, and it comes at a crucial time when network executives and advertisers had feared the landscape may have permanently changed. There has been much debate over what number now defines a “hit series.” Ahead of marquee shows including The Pacific, Hey Hey it’s Saturday and MasterChef Australia a new benchmark has just been set.