‘Underground’ Premiere Draws 1.4 Million Viewers, a Ratings Record for WGN America

Underground Railroad drama is network’s highest-rated original premiere ever, besting premieres on Showtime and HBO

“Underground” arrived with a bang on Wednesday night, setting a new ratings record for WGN America.

The 10 p.m. premiere of the Underground Railroad drama pulled in 1.42 million viewers. Over four airings on Wednesday night, the show managed to draw 2.5 million viewers, making it the most viewed premiere for an original series in the network’s history.

Its 1.4 million viewers means “Underground” bested the series premieres of Showtime’s “Billions” by 57 percent, HBO’s “Vinyl” by 86 percent, and the FX series”Baskets” by 37 percent.  That also means “Underground” is the fifth highest-rated premiere for a scripted series premieres on cable this broadcast season.

The news comes after another WGN America original, “Outsiders,” earned 1.05 million total viewers during its premiere in Jan. Another WGN America, “Salem,” was recently renewed for a third season.

The series follows a group of slaves on a Southern plantation who plot their escape from their cruel owner. But the path to freedom is filled with danger and unexpected twists.

The leader of the group, a slave named Noah (Aldis Hodge), convinces several of his fellow slaves that their only hope lies in the North. He is joined by Rosalee (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Zeke (Theodus Crane), and Moses (Mykelti Williamson), among others.

Misha Green wrote and created the series along with Joe Pokaski. The pair also serve as executive producers alongside Academy Award-winning writer Akiva Goldsman of Weed Road Pictures; Tory Tunnell and Joby Harold of Safehouse Pictures; and Academy Award-winning songwriter John Legend, along with Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius of Get Lifted. Anthony Hemingway directs and serves as executive producer for the first four episodes.