WGN America’s new drama “Underground” got off to a great ratings start last week, with time-shifting and encores helping it to become the network’s most-watched original scripted entertainment program to date.
In Nielsen’s “live plus-3” estimates, the regular-timeslot debut of the period drama about a group of slaves planning a 600-mile escape from a Georgia plantation averaged 2.3 million total viewers, including 985,000 adults 25-54 (0.83 national rating) — roughly 10 times the network’s primetime average season-to-date. It grew from its same-day averages by 60% in total viewers (from 1.42 million) and by 68% in the demo (from 585,000 or 0.49 rating).
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When including three encores last Wednesday, “Underground’s” totals rose to 3.5 million total viewers and 1.5 million adults 25-54, making it the highest-rated original scripted program ever in the network’s history. By comparison, its premiere night improved upon those of the network’s other successful originals like “Outsiders” (2.8 million) by 25% and “Salem” (3.2 million) by 9%.
“Underground” was big on social media for its premiere night, standing as the second-highest trending topic of Wednesday, behind only the Democratic debate on CNN and Univision.
The cast of “Underground” incldes Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge, Christopher Meloni, Alano Miller, Jessica de Gouw, Marc Blucas, Adina Porter, Mykelti Williamson, Amirah Vann, Johnny Ray Gill, Chris Chalk, Reed Diamond, Theodus Crane, James Lafferty, Renwick Scott and Jussie Smollett. It hails from Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios.
Misha Green and Joe Pokaski executive produce alonside Akiva Goldsman of Weed Road Pictures; and Joby Harold and Tory Tunnell of Safehouse Pictures. John Legend and his Get Lifted partners Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorious executive produce; and Get Lifted oversses all elements of the show’s music. Anthony Hemingway directs and serves as executive producer for the first four episodes.