The UK terrestrial debut of fantasy drama Heroes captured an audience of 4.3m on BBC Two.
Heroes have special powers, such as being able to fly or mind-read
The show, which was named programme of the year by US television critics earlier this week, was only beaten by ITV1's Wire In The Blood.
The crime drama, starring Robson Green, drew an audience of 4.8m viewers to the same 2100 BST timeslot.
Heroes, a critical and ratings success in the US, was recently nominated for eight Emmy awards.
The nightly edition of Big Brother on Channel 4 pulled in 3m viewers at the same time.
Heroes also beat BBC One's Crimewatch Solved, which pulled in an average of 3m viewers.
The entire first season of Heroes, shown on the NBC network in the US, was aired on the UK's digital Sci-Fi channel earlier this year.
The second series is due to premiere in the US in September, with a set of spin-offs called Heroes: Origins also set to be broadcast.
Heroes follows the story of a group of ordinary people with superhuman abilities who are brought together to prevent a catastrophe.
The BBC Two website has dubbed the drama as "Lost without the desert island".