Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities - the second chapter of the most talked about crime series in Australia's modern history - made an explosive debut on television last night, with 2.5 million viewers tuned in.
Only two days into the ratings year, the win pushes Nine almost 10 percentage points ahead of rival Seven for the week.
Few would disagree it is an impressive start, though Nine still faces a massive challenge if it hopes to regain its lost ratings glory.
The win also gave Nine more than 40 per cent of 25-54-year-old viewers, the demographic which most advertisers prefer. In comparison, Seven's share of the same demographic last night was only 24.1 per cent.
Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities dramatises the Sydney drug trade between 1976-1987, and the rise of underworld figures Robert Trimbole (Roy Billing), Terry Clark (Matthew Newton) and George Freeman (Peter O'Brien).
Last night's two-hour premiere focused on the assassination of anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay (Andrew McFarlane). It also introduced robber Ray Chuck (Nathan Page), underworld wife Judi Kane (Kate Ritchie) and hit man Christopher Dale Flannery (Dustin Clare) all of whom will feature prominently in later episodes.
Last night's Underbelly debut compares to 1.93 million viewers who watched the first episode of Packed to the Rafters, Seven's monster drama hit of 2008.
It also out-rated the first series of Underbelly, which dramatised the 1995-2004 gangland war in Melbourne, which was watched by an average of 1.7 million viewers. That figure fell short of an expected 2.5 million-plus because the first series was not aired in Melbourne due to a court injunction. (Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)
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