We heard Planet Earth II was coming months and months ago, but at the time, I had no idea that most of the series had been shot and would be coming to our televisions sooner rather than later. This weekend, the brand new series from the popular nature documentary team premiered in the U.K. and did really great numbers. In fact, news indicates that a whopping 9.2 million total viewers caught the Planet Earth II premiere on Sunday night, which is a record-breaking number.
Although it's not the highest-rated program to ever air on a U.K. network, reports this week indicate that Planet Earth II is the highest rated natural history documentary program to air on the network in more than 15 years, per The Guardian. It's also the sixth highest TV episode to air in the U.K. at all this season, coming in just behind the likes of Call The Midwife, The Great British Bake Off, Strictly Come Dancing and a few others, which is a pretty impressive feat for a nature documentary.
Intriguingly, it was one of the other aforementioned popular programs that may have helped Planet Earth II to pull such impressive numbers. The series aired after popular British competition series Strictly Come Dancing, which pulled in an impressive 10.1 million total viewers on Sunday night. A good lead-in often helps the numbers and Strictly Come Dancing is a great lead-in. It also probably helps that Planet Earth 2 is full of views such as this:
The premiere numbers indicate that a lot of people got on board with the original Planet Earth after the show first hit the schedule. During the first series' run, 8.74 million total viewers tuned in for the release of the premiere episode. The original documentary series did well during its run on Discovery and has enjoyed a long shelf life on Blu-ray and in syndication around the world. Presumably, the increase in ratings will bring increased prominence to Planet Earth II so that it enjoys a long shelf life as well.
If you do live in the United States, Planet Earth II is going to be available on BBC America rather than on The Discovery Channel this time around. Unfortunately, we will have a while to wait before new episodes hit the schedule. The U.S. airing isn't going to happen until January 28, 2017. To find out what else is hitting the schedule in the new year, check out our midseason TV premiere schedule.