2.58m: Underbelly sets new record

By David Knox on February 10, 2009 / Filed Under News 53

ubelly99The premiere of Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities soared past 2.5m viewers last night, rewriting the record books in the process.

The first hour averaged 2.58m viewers, while the second hour kept up the pace at 2.41m. It won all demographic groups and peaked at 2.8m.

So You Think You Can Dance Australia and Desperate Housewives both hovered around the 1m mark while Good News Week struggled on 761,000.

Nine’s share for the evening was a huge 39.5% share.

Underbelly now becomes the highest rated Australian series launch since the introduction of OzTAM People Meters in 2001.

Kath & Kim’s premiere episode on Seven took 2.52m in 2007 while Always Greener premiered to 2m in 2001.

The highest figure achieved for any Packed to the Rafters episode is 2.06m.

The glory for Nine’s drama is sweet after it was denied a national audience for its 2008 premiere, following legal battles in Victoria.

Meanwhile News continues to draw Australians to their screens, compelled by scenes from the disastrous bushfires.

Seven News was first with 1.73m viewers, although in Melbourne Nine News took 557,000 viewers ahead of Seven’s 440,000 and TEN’s 432,000. ABC had 409,000.

Nine now has two nights under its belt in the first week of ratings with a sizeable lead (36.8%) over its rivals (Seven: 27.3%, TEN: 17.7%) . Seven is bound to narrow that lead with its Tuesday line-up.

Week 7


  1. Nick February 11, 2009 at 4:39 pm -

    Gee, it was just okay wasn’t it? And therein lies the problem- this was seriously unsophisticated television. As with the original Underbelly, A Tale of Two Cities is peppered with caricatures; characters we don’t really care about all that much because we don’t get any tangible insight into them for a multitude of reasons (average script writing, so-so direction and bland performances). Weedy Matthew Newton couldn’t knock the froth off a cuppucino and Billing didn’t seem like he had an ounce of Italian in him. Seriously, are these guys supposed to be menacing? Second rate pimps at best.

    The plot was simply a number of set pieces involving different characters linked lazily by too much voice over narration. We all knew the furniture salesman was going to be taken out but it took so long to get there! And why, at the start, with the title ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, did we get the earnest voice-over, ‘this is Melbourne’s story’ ? Period detail was re-created nicely in an authentic if overtly garish fashion. Great to see so many positive female role-models too, progressive enought to remove their tops for no apparent reason (or over two million reasons, depending on how you look at it…)

    Channel Nine- still the one for making the biggest deal out of the most superficial of product. Sure, biggest ratings in people-meter history. So what? Oztam should never be used as a quality-meter! Never underestimate the power of hype and sadly, the low standards of the wider public. I’m sure, in years to come, we’ll have regressed so far through top rating prequels that we’ll be faced with the prospect of ‘Underbelly 10: The Kelly Gang’.

  2. Shelly February 11, 2009 at 3:00 pm -

    I didnt think it was worth all the hype. I wont be watching it again…

  3. cookieS February 11, 2009 at 12:54 pm -

    watched GWN and Dexter and loved it…. recorded Underbelly and so far so good – of course will never live up to hype, but it’s a hell of a lot better than so much else that’s out there

  4. Jerome February 11, 2009 at 11:27 am -

    well i am honored i guess. if i knew it was going to be published and read by thousands i would have put more thought into it but i stand by what i said.

    TVtonight is probably the most positive blog out there there on this topic. There are articles with comments out there on the daily telegraph, ninemsn, couriermail ect. and it’s very rare to find a positive comment i wonder what made them pick my comment.

    some examples: Captain of C’Town: “A load of fictitious rubbish and not very entertaining at that.” Carmen of Melbourne: “watching paint dry is more exciting” terry hill: “very ordinary”, Tanya of Camden: “He (newton) would be better off playing Humphrey B bear.” Pete of Melbournes underbelly: “peewee herman, i mean matt . . . whats up with that. he couldnt intimidate a fly” aka of sydney: “just a greedy grab for money and ratings” ect. ect. and thats just from the most recent few comments on the daily telegraph article “Underbelly comes out fighting”. there seem to be endless complaints about matt newtons acting.

    so sorry if i’ve hurt any fans feelings but it could have been much worse.

  5. David Knox February 11, 2009 at 1:47 am -

    Internet feedback reaches the SMH, including one quote from this site (go, Jerome): “not as good as the hype.”

  6. Barrie February 11, 2009 at 12:07 am -

    Didnt watch it last night but recorded and just watched it. I haven’t seen UB1 so can’t compare but thought Matt Newton was the weakest actor of the cast. Plank and Wood come to mind. In fact the rest of the cast were fine except the Aussie guy who tried the Scottish accent. The story wasn’t that interesting and I got bored after 30mins and switched off. The tits and bums were un-necessary. They added nothing to the atmosphere. I’ll be watching Foxtel next week.

  7. Mark February 10, 2009 at 9:15 pm -

    I’m with ali’s comment above; sick and tired of FTA TV at the moment. Foxtel or DVDs or the Internet are the only real options.

  8. aha February 10, 2009 at 8:56 pm -


    It will loose 500,000 each week for the next couple of weeks as people realise it cannot live up to the hype (like the Australia flop).

    Most will return to DH – a series that can sustain more than one season… and that doesn’t have Matthew Newton in it.

  9. Nate February 10, 2009 at 8:31 pm -

    Be interesting to see how many stick with it next week. Loved the initial series, but this was very mediocre.

  10. Benno February 10, 2009 at 8:00 pm -

    I only came across promotions on the radio and newspapers. I never saw the series and don’t plan to. Say that i’m missing out, but it doesn’t bother me.

  11. fizzin February 10, 2009 at 7:44 pm -

    Rubbish! 3000 people meters across Australia, don’t make me laugh

  12. vid February 10, 2009 at 7:27 pm -

    zambora… grow up!

  13. ali February 10, 2009 at 7:21 pm -

    I watched a dvd. sick of all FTA channels at the moment.

  14. ducko February 10, 2009 at 7:19 pm -

    Kev, I don’t consider myself as a fanboy extremist & I enjoyed it. I thought it started slowly but built quite well. I think it will only get better & will be worth watching over the next few weeks. Not great, but very good.

  15. Disco Stu February 10, 2009 at 6:29 pm -

    I think you’ll find Ten’s 5pm-6.30 news actually beat Seven’s 6-7pm bulletin…. those figures are from the ‘bushfire special’ before 6pm on 7.

  16. Zambora February 10, 2009 at 5:42 pm -

    Watched Underbelly on basis of hype over First series and only seeing “heavily edited show here in Vic.
    Must say was disappointed and the casting left a lot to be desired.
    The good point – Billing was fabulous in his role as Trimbole.
    Bad – Matt Newton as a menacing Kiwi drug kingpin – you are having a laugh !! Certainly not believable at all..
    And the protrayal of the police was astounding – looks like they watched Bargearse & early eps of Cop Shop.
    Sorry Nine, I won’t be back.

  17. Jake February 10, 2009 at 5:35 pm -

    Matthew Newton did a great job I thought, it’s just all these naysayers trying to knock him down because he had a really bad year last year. I actually think this time it has a better premise, smarter crooks, etc. One part I didn’t really warm to was how they played out the Great Bookie Robbery, I think the miniseries with the same name did it justice. But all in all, I like the storytelling a lot better.

  18. Tepee February 10, 2009 at 5:04 pm -

    kev, I’m a DH fan so I watched DH for the first hour, but I tuned into the second so i can be the first commenter to personally recommend it to you. It is certainly one of the best dramas Australia has produced in my opinion (although obviously I can’t comment on the rest of the episodes) and I completely disagree with those who are bagging Matthew Newton’s performance – I thought he was great.

  19. Someone BBBA February 10, 2009 at 4:44 pm -

    Pretty good for a show which was supposedly such a violation of community standards that ACMA had to step in and protect us all from out televisions.

    I hope Ten will continue with Dexter too, seeing as there is great opportunity for growth over the next two weeks. When you think about the big picture it really wasn’t that bad.

  20. kyle February 10, 2009 at 4:32 pm -

    meh, i watched DH then my recording of BSG and recorded UB. I was surprised to see these numbers i haven’t found anyone who watched it other than my folks.

  21. James R w February 10, 2009 at 4:02 pm -

    I am so glad I watched DH last night instead of U2. It was good to watch something nice and happy rather than watch something violent, dark, filled with coarse language, nudity and sex.

  22. kev February 10, 2009 at 3:36 pm -

    well it seems i am in the minority that watched DH. i taped underbelly.
    apart from fanboy extremists i’m yet to hear anyone that says it is worth watching, everyone seems to think that it revolved around excuses to show boobies and that matt newton wrecked it. so i might hold off.

  23. Matthew R February 10, 2009 at 3:31 pm -

    The direction is still average. Invest in Steadicam.

  24. slydoggie February 10, 2009 at 2:58 pm -

    Mmmm…I had been interested to watch having been a fan of UB1…but I really needed a laugh after the intensity of the Bushfire situation so I tuned into Good Ol’ Good News Week. Thankgod for Paul McDermott and his chargers. I’ll just wait for DVD for UB2

  25. Jezza of the city February 10, 2009 at 2:52 pm -

    I heard some dork on ABC local radio the other day spouting on about how DespHWs would probably hold or beat underbelly. At the time I thought ‘you muppet’ you really haven’t gotta clue and he was meant to be a TV ratings/advertising expert.!!!!!

    I think titties on show so early was not a good move in family viewing time, I kept my young daughters out of the way and banned them from watching cos I just did not trust 9 after the Ramsey c-word incident. I am glad I did.
    It was great to see nudity on telly again at long last. I hope the networks get more of these actors to undress in the future. It is a positive step.

  26. thesportsfreak February 10, 2009 at 2:47 pm -

    Meanwhile, I’ve just gone onto iTunes, and you can buy it for $2.99. W00t!

  27. toriwannabe February 10, 2009 at 2:46 pm -

    I really hope Channel 10 doesn’t react to the ratings by dropping Dexter. It rated quite low due to Underbelly, but maybe people were like me and forgot it was even on!

  28. thesportsfreak February 10, 2009 at 2:45 pm -

    It’s good that they had the Melbourne figures in there.
    I need to get my reception of WIN (reg WA) fixed so I can watch the bloody thing!

  29. vid February 10, 2009 at 2:31 pm -

    you all have to remember… its based on true events!!!
    the show is a drama!.
    i live in griffith and i know what really happened….
    some things didnt happen but thats what a drama is all about. to grab your attention.
    the way it was edited… great job!!

  30. Jason February 10, 2009 at 2:30 pm -

    Wonderful result for television.

    LOL @ Jean with the Obi Wan Kenobi remark – IIRC season 1 (which I didn’t see being in Victoria and all) had a bit of that ESP going on as well.

  31. Mia February 10, 2009 at 2:02 pm -

    Very happy to see Aussie drama doing so well.
    I enjoyed the premiere. My only criticism would be the casting of Matthew Newton. I don’t find him remotely convincing (and his NZ accent is terrible). I’ll definitely continue to watch anyway.
    I flicked over to GNW in the ad breaks. Would love to have seen it in full. Seemed like a cracker of an episode.

  32. Joseph February 10, 2009 at 1:59 pm -

    Jean you are spot on! i couldn’t have said it better myself. It was complete and utter garbage.

  33. JJR February 10, 2009 at 1:56 pm -

    Nine Melbourne made a big deal in almost every Underbelly ad break last night to pump their news. I hope this means they will start to take news seriously (again) every week, continuing on from their fantastic coverage of the Victorian bushfires.

  34. Jean Valjean February 10, 2009 at 1:39 pm -

    I wasn’t sure if it could live up to the “lofty standards” of Underbelly 1, but it did – it was awful, I couldn’t stop laughing which I don’t think is what Nine are after. The acting was ok but they didn’t have much to work with. Stilted dialogue, a distinct lack of suspense, its only slightly more sophistocated than crimestoppers.
    Its almost as if the writers were thinking “this sh1t writes itself”, and it shows.
    And if all else fails, show some nudity and people will watch. Obviously thats what happened.
    And what was with Don McKay’s wife shuddering at the time he was shot? How did she know what was going on? She was clearing the dinner plates! It was like she had Obi Wan Kenobi type extra sensory powers?

  35. alex February 10, 2009 at 1:36 pm -

    Ha! Take that all you Aussie drama and Nine bashers!!

  36. andy February 10, 2009 at 1:27 pm -

    I think they should be fairly content with that…..

  37. Daniel February 10, 2009 at 1:09 pm -

    I was not one of the 2.58 mill. I am sick of seeing constant ads for Underbelly as well as the in programme ads that arent even related. Whats Underbelly got to do with cricket? I am sick of seeing these ads, and I’m sick of Underbelly. Channel Nine are really overdoing it and I havent even watched a single episode and I don’t plan to. I’ll stick with Good News Week.

  38. knoxoverstreet February 10, 2009 at 1:06 pm -

    lol Tv Worker it certainly made me look away for a few seconds !

    all the 7 fanbois are certainly in a frenzy over this :)

  39. Bob Loblaw February 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm -

    nine may win this week with the double ep of underbelly and 3 nights of cricket. however it seems like they will struggle in the coming weeks as 60minutes is the only top show yet to return. nine’s factuals are nowhere near as successful as 7’s and their american cop shows are not as popular as in previous years.

  40. TV worker February 10, 2009 at 12:48 pm -

    Underbelly 1 was a 9/10 for me…this one is a 7.5/10 but its early days, so lets see where they go with it…Just hope they didnt rush the job to make it for the season launch timeline…U1 seemed to start off better more values into it…. and what i hear Trimbole didnt actually own a Orange grove but that could be wrong too…its all entertainment anyway …and the site of Matt Newtons buttocks…would have bought a tear to Patti and Berts eye lol

  41. Richard W February 10, 2009 at 12:37 pm -

    Not sure about the numbers but OzTams viewer sample, I’ve heard, is so small that something like this was bound to happen when there is a huge swing to one show.

    All it really means is that 2000 or so out of 3000 were watching Underbelly. Is that about right?

    Housewives and Dance still got nearly 1 million each. ABC did okay too. If someone can explain the system better that would be good!

  42. sandra February 10, 2009 at 12:30 pm -

    i agree with jerome. the hype makes people go in with such high expectations is a recepie for dissapointment.

    it seems i enjoyed it more than most people here but i agree that the hype made me believe that it it was the best thing since sliced bread, which it wasn’t. but i will continue to watch it and tape DH. i will be disappointed if the rushed production starts to show in the last few episodes.

  43. toriwannabe February 10, 2009 at 12:23 pm -

    I know I seem to harp on this, but couldn’t help but notice the camera always managed to have a nipple taking up a lot of the shot! Do you think as the series goes on, the women characters will become less like porn caricatures and a bit more real? Probably not…

  44. lee123 February 10, 2009 at 12:18 pm -

    well i can see why people wanted it to stay at 9:30. it’s not exactly family viewing they didn’t waste much time getting to the boobies.
    i didn’t think it was anything that great if it wasn’t up against other great shows i would definately keep watching it live but it back to watching DH and taping GNW for me, i will probably have to catch it on DVD sometime.

    i hope DH can recover, its such a great season and the with high quality drama. same for B&S.

  45. David Knox February 10, 2009 at 12:14 pm -

    Tommy it’s a fair argument. UB: ATTC is being put out there by Nine as a separate series to UB presumably because it has a different cast, setting etc. Right now I can’t think of a similar precedent in Aussie TV. At 2.58m it still breaks records as highest figure for an Aussie drama, but I have no issue with your interpretation!

  46. Jerome February 10, 2009 at 12:11 pm -

    i thought it was OK not as good as the hype made it out to be. especially the hype that said it was better than the original. sometimes i think hype ruins things, it sure did ruin australia the movie.

    it is an interesting watch, not worth missing desperate housewives or GNW over. i’ll be watching the rest recorded and make a proper judgement then and see if the critics that said “it only gets better” are right.

  47. boxhead February 10, 2009 at 12:09 pm -

    I’m not sure Seven will narrow the gap that much tonight…Nine have the cricket on!!

  48. ella February 10, 2009 at 12:06 pm -

    meh, didn’t do much for me. i taped DH and watched it after U2 it was a good episode of last night and dare i say more classy than underbelly. i’ll be back to DH next week for the fat kid episode.

  49. Matt F February 10, 2009 at 12:05 pm -

    I never made heads or tails of Season 1 of Underbelly, so I kept to my dedication to GNW.

  50. knoxoverstreet February 10, 2009 at 12:02 pm -

    I agree David about being denied these kinds of figures the first time around.

    Whether it’s as good as the first is a matter of opinion but I loved it and it’s great to see a quality local show do so well.

  51. tommyk February 10, 2009 at 12:00 pm -

    “Underbelly now becomes the highest rated Australian series launch”

    it is season 2 doesn’t that only count as a season launch, i thought series launch was the first episode ever.

  52. Jimbo February 10, 2009 at 11:57 am -

    Those are great results for Underbelly. Great work for Nine for making a great Aussie drama

  53. Chris M February 10, 2009 at 11:54 am -

    Bah, I’ll be back to watching Good News Week next monday…. Underbelly is no where as good as the first one. ill just watch it on DVD, or download…. Would prefer to watch GNW.

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