There were some opening night jitters as The Project made its live debut on Three last night but ratings show the Aussie format managed to pique viewers' interest.

The panel show, hosted by Jesse Mulligan, Kanoa Lloyd and Josh Thomson, saw 182,000 viewers aged 5-plus tune in, nearly 40,000 more viewers than watched Story at the same time last year.

But the numbers were well behind rival Seven Sharp on TVNZ1, which saw 438,000 viewers tune in.

In the key commercial demographic of age 25-54, the race was neck-in-neck, with Seven Sharp narrowly beating The Project by just 3000 viewers.

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MediaWorks chief content officer Andrew Szusterman was happy with the debut performance, saying the programme "is doing the job we need it to do".

"Yes there were technical issues and nerves definitely played a part, but in TV these are fixable. People enjoyed the show and for us, that is the most important thing for day one."

However, the figures show both networks were down significantly on last year's ratings with 25-54 year olds.

On Monday February 22 last year, 119,000 Kiwis aged 25 -54 watched Seven Sharp, while 84,000 watched Story.

The numbers reflect the growing trend of young professionals and middle-aged Kiwis moving away from traditional television.

THIS YEAR:
Seven Sharp: 438,000 (5+) 77,000 (25-54)
The Project: 182,000 (5+) 74,000 (25-54)

LAST YEAR:
Seven Sharp: 440,000 (5+) 119,000 (25-54)
Story: 146,000 (5+) 84,000 (25-54)