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WGN’s ‘Underground’ Premiere Ratings Shatter Records (Diversity Is Good for Business)

WGN's 'Underground' Premiere Ratings Shatter Records (Diversity Is Good for Business)

WGN America has announced that its critically acclaimed original event 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 62 home run beating Roger Maris’s single season record.

“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. In Live + 3 delivery, “Underground” amassed 3.5 million Total Viewers (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” outpaced all originals on the network with 4.9 million Total Viewers on premiere night and 5.7 million Total Viewers across the week.

“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.

From creators and executive producers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, and executive producer 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.

This Wednesday, in an all-new episode of “Underground,” titled “War Chest,” a plantation dance becomes the perfect distraction for a heist while John and Elizabeth step into a strange new world.

The cast of “Underground” includes 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.

Anthony Hemingway (“The Wire,” “Treme”) directs and serves as executive producer for the first four episodes.

Inquiring minds want to know what all this wonderful news might mean in terms of additional original scripted programming for the network centered around the lives of characters of African descent. 

The season’s not over yet, so stay tuned…

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