‘Underground’ Premiere Shatters Records as the Most-Watched Program in Nearly 18 Years on WGN America
Los Angeles, CA – On the heels of rave reviews, the premiere of WGN America’s critically acclaimed hit series “Underground” shattered records as the most-watched program in nearly 18 years on the network, since the Cubs vs. Cardinals game on 9/8/1998 where Mark McGwire famously hit his 62nd home run beating Roger Maris’s single season record. In Live + 3 delivery, “Underground” amassed 3.5 million Total Viewers (+43% vs. 2.5 million) and 1.5 Adults 25-54 (+51% vs. 983,000), last Wednesday night (premiere and three encores) to become the highest rated original scripted program ever in the network’s history. When adding digital platforms and encores, “Underground” continued its winning streak, outpacing all originals on the network with 4.9 million Total Viewers on premiere night and 5.7 million Total Viewers across the week. The 10 p.m. airing drew 2.3 million Total Viewers (+60% vs. 1,421,000) and 985,000 Adults 25-54 (+68% vs. 585,000), outperforming the network’s prime average season-to-date by +948% in the demo.
“We couldn’t be happier with the outstanding performance of ‘Underground,’ but the overwhelmingly positive response of the audience to this story about the unsung American heroes of the Underground Railroad is even more gratifying,” said Matt Cherniss, president and general manager, WGN America and Tribune Studios. “The talented creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, along with the producers and an amazing cast and crew, have created something truly special.”
The commercial-free premiere of “Underground” aired Wednesday, March 9 at 10 p.m., and ranks an impressive #6 in Total Viewers among all scripted cable series premieres this broadcast season and #8 among Adults 25-54.
Lauded for its vivid and thrilling portrayal of the revolutionaries of the Underground Railroad, “Underground’s” 3.5 million Total Viewers on the night improved on the premiere nights of the network’s popular originals “Outsiders” by +25% (vs. 2.8 million) and “Salem” by +9% (vs. 3.2 million).
From creators and executive producers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, and executive producer and Academy Award®-winner John Legend, the 10-episode, hour-long program tells the unflinching story of a group of courageous men and women who band together for the fight of their lives – for their families, their future and their freedom. In all-new episode of “Underground,” “War Chest,” airing WEDNESDAY, March 16 (10:00 p.m. ET/PT), a plantation dance becomes the perfect distraction for a heist while John and Elizabeth step into a strange new world.
“Underground” has fast amassed a passionate fan base, and trended on Twitter in its premiere night as the second highest trending topic of the night, only after the Democratic debate. The series was recently honored at the White House with a screening and panel discussion as part of the Office of Public Engagement’s Black History Month program. Additionally, “Underground” has been screened at a number of revered institutions, universities and events, including National Civil Rights Museum, 2016 Sundance Film Festival, NAACP, Schomburg Center, DuSable Museum of African American History, Howard University, New York Comic-Con, and more.
The celebrated cast of “Underground” includes Jurnee Smollett-Bell (“True Blood,” “Friday Night Lights”), Aldis Hodge (“Straight Outta Compton”), Christopher Meloni (“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”), Alano Miller (“Jane The Virgin”), Jessica de Gouw (“Arrow,” “Dracula”), Marc Blucas (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), Adina Porter (“The 100”), Mykelti Williamson (“Justified,” “24”), Amirah Vann (“Girls,” “And So It Goes”), Johnny Ray Gill (“Rectify”), Chris Chalk (“Gotham”), Reed Diamond (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Theodus Crane (“The Walking Dead”), James Lafferty (“One Tree Hill”), Renwick Scott (“Treme”) and Jussie Smollett (“Empire”).
Hailing from Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios, “Underground” is created by Misha Green (“Sons Of Anarchy,” “Heroes”) and Joe Pokaski (“Daredevil,” “Heroes,”) who executive produce alongside Academy Award-winner Akiva Goldsman (“A Beautiful Mind,” “I Am Legend”) of Weed Road Pictures; and Joby Harold (“King Arthur,” “Edge of Tomorrow”) and Tory Tunnell (“King Arthur,” “Holy Rollers”) of Safehouse Pictures. Visionary artist and producer John Legend, an Academy Award, Golden Globe® and multi-Grammy Award winner, and his Get Lifted partners Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius executive produce. Additionally, Get Lifted oversees all elements of the show’s music. Anthony Hemingway (“The Wire,” “Treme”) directs and serves as executive producer for the first four episodes.
WGN America and Tribune Studios
WGN America, the flagship entertainment network of Tribune Media Company (NYSE: TRCO) is nationally distributed in nearly 80 million homes via cable, satellite and telco, with high-quality entertainment programming including the breakout hit series “Outsiders” and “Salem,” and the upcoming scripted drama “Underground.” The network also brings its audience a strong slate of popular first-run syndicated series and blockbuster movies. Through Tribune Studios, the creative development arm of Tribune Media, original content is produced for WGN America and Tribune local stations nationwide. Follow the network on Twitter @wgnamerica. For additional information, please visit www.wgnamerica.com.
About Sony Pictures Television
Sony Pictures Television is one of the television industry’s leading content providers, producing and distributing programming worldwide in every genre and for every platform. In addition to managing one of the industry’s largest libraries of award-winning feature films, television shows and formats, SPT is home to a thriving US production business and operates 18 wholly-owned or joint venture production companies in 11 countries around the world. SPT’s worldwide networks portfolio includes 150 channel feeds, which are available in 178 countries reaching more than 1.3 billion cumulative households worldwide. Sony Pictures Television (SPT) is a Sony Pictures Entertainment Company.