It was the most anticipated night of TV viewing since Desperate Housewives and Lost premiered on Seven in 2005 and last night’s debut of new US comedy, Ugly Betty, matched the housewives and castaways in appeal to Australian audiences.

Ugly Betty averaged 2.03 million viewers, while its Nine rival, 60 Minutes, only had 1.1 million, though the veteran current affairs program has seen it before –remember Alf anyone, or Third Rock From The Sun?

As a result Nine was beaten but Ten was hammered, and that’s the big story out of the night. Ten was reduced to a very distant fourth on the peak night of TV viewing, beaten by the ABC thanks to some poor programming.

Ten had to subsist on a diet of an hour-long The Biggest Loser and then the final result on So You Think You Can Dance. It was nowhere near enough.

Ugly Betty‘s lead in was another debut, Australia’s Got Talent at 6.30pm, which proved to be surprisingly likeable: it’s basically an old fashioned talent quest. And it worked, averaging 1.629 million and easily winning the slot.

Grey’s Anatomy on Seven at 8.30pm averaged 1.795 million and easily accounted for Nine’s first new ep of CSI with 1.319 million (which started around ten minutes late, as 60 Minutes ran way past its bedtime at 8.30pm). The second ep of CSI averaged 1.352 million and won the timeslot for Nine.

With Seven News easily winning at 6pm, the network dominated ratings from then until 9.30pm, a far cry from its usual black hole performance on Sunday nights when Nine could win by five to 12 points on some nights.

The win means that with solid performance until Wednesday, and then Friday night, Seven will win the week and do it fairly easily. Ten, however, faces a tough few weeks until it can return Thank God You’re Here to Wednesday nights at 7.30pm and give itself a chance of boosting its share.

For the TV industry and advertisers, the interesting point of conjecture will be what happens next Sunday night? Will two million viewers return to watch Betty like they did for Desperate Housewives and Lost in 2005 or will they drift away like they did in the second and third weeks of Heroes, on Seven, which started with a two million plus audience?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey