U.S. drama debuts to strong ratings

U.K. terrestrial channel ITV1’s gamble to give U.S. acquisition “Pushing Daisies” a Saturday night primetime showcase appears to have paid off.

The first episode of the supernatural skein, which stars Brit thesp Anna Friel, achieved an average 25% viewing share against tough competition.

“To get an audience of more than 5.7 million and 31% of 16- to 34-year-olds is a tremendous achievement for its debut episode,” said ITV head of acquisitions Jay Kandola. “Of all the U.S. shows to come over to the U.K. this year, ‘Pushing Daisies’ has been the most talked about and now the most viewed.”

“Pushing Daisies” is the first U.S. show to get a primetime slot on ITV1, the U.K.’s most watched commercial web, in more than a decade and follows less-than-impressive viewing figures for “Millennium” and “The Practice.”

The web, which is overhauling its schedule following a spate of homemade drama flops, has envied the success of U.S. fare such as “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” on rival Channel 4.

Some of ITV1’s original dramas, including the high-profile “Rock Rivals,” attracted an audience of just 2 million — the kind of ratings that would have been unthinkable even a year ago.

ITV is putting a lot of marketing clout behind “Pushing Daisies,” originally due to air in January but delayed because of the writers strike.

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