SBS goes back to a ratings hit

Hamid Sultani, an Afghan refugee living in Dandenong, has a chat with Angry Anderson on Go Back to Where You Came From.Verdict: The danger is palpable in an inspired Go Back

The second series of SBS TV’s ground-breaking refugee documentary/reality series Go Back To Where You Came From drew a solid 752,000 viewers nationally last night.

The result slotted Go Back To Where You Came From into 10th place on the overnight rankings.

In real terms it is an outstanding result. SBS’s audience footprint is considerably smaller than either the ABC’s, or that of its commercial rivals.

To command such a large slice of the audience is a major win for them. Previously only shows such as the hit UK motoring show Top Gear delivered similar audiences to SBS.

The first series, which was screened last year, was watched by 524,000 people on its first night and ranked 23rd for the night. It then built to 569,000 and 600,000 for its second and third nights.

This year SBS will screen two more programs, tonight and Thursday night, and conclude the series on Friday night with a cast reunion and televised debate.

The series takes six Australians on a “reverse” refugee journey. That is, they begin in Australia and back-track to some of the world’s most volatile places in an attempt to shine a light on why refugees undertake dangerous journeys across the world.

The first series featured six everyday Australians.

The second series features six celebrities: former government minister Peter Reith, comedian Catherine Deveney, singer Angry Anderson, former ombudsman Allan Asher, model Imogen Bailey and former “shock jock” broadcaster Michael Smith.

In last night’s first episode the group was split and sent to Kabul in Afghanistan and Mogadishu in Somalia.

The big result for SBS did particular damage to Ten, at least in perception terms. Go Back To Where You Came From out-rated every show on Ten last night.

In pure ratings terms such comparisons are not always sound – they’re a little like comparing apples and oranges – but it does serve to illustrate the particular ratings pressures on Ten at the moment.

Because of Go Back’s strong performance, SBS’s share was only a few percentage points behind Ten last night. That will no doubt set tongues wagging.

Inclusive of digital channels that gap widens to about five per cent.

Ten’s musical theatre talent show I Will Survive sank to 364,000 viewers nationally, an unsustainable figure given the cost of the show and the expectations of the advertisers who have signed on to back it.

Seven was denied a clean sweep of the top five, but won the night overall with a convincing margin: a 33.5 per cent share, compared to Nine’s 23.8 per cent.

Top 10 shows last night

1 The X Factor (7) 1.58 million2 Seven News (7) 1.19 million3 Winners & Losers (7) 1.18 million4 Today Tonight (7) 1.088 million5 Nine News (9) 1.080 million6 Big Brother (9) 1.064 million7 Home & Away (7) 1.062 million8 A Current Affair (9) 1.03 million9 ABC News (ABC) 1.02 million10 Go Back To Where You Came From (SBS) 752,000

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