The first half of this season’s The Walking Dead often beat NBC’s football in the ratings. Now, the second half of this season has been facing a steady stream of formidable competition as well, and is managing to hold its own.
The return of the show on Feb. 8 faced off against CBS’ The Grammy Awards, and pulled in 15.6 million total viewers and over 10 million in the 18-49 demo. Those results were in line with last year’s midseason 4 return of 15.8M/10.4M. In that 18-49 demo, The Walking Dead received an 8.0 up against the Grammy’s 8.5. Not bad at all. On Feb. 15, AMC’s zombie hit was up against one of the best and biggest entertainment spectaculars in years, NBC’s SNL 40th Anniversary Special. Head to head from 9-10P, SNL grabbed over 24 million viewers, and 10.68M with a 8.4 rating in the demo. The Walking Dead, meanwhile, dropped 22% from the previous week, with 12.3 million total viewers, and 7.9M/6.2 rating amongst the coveted 18-49 year olds. That’s more than reasonable against a one-time, star-packed comedy special. And, surely the Dead’s numbers will rise once same-day and plus-3 numbers are added. Next week gets no easier, though, as Rick and company take on the Academy Awards.
Also worth noting is that the midseason return of The Walking Dead brought record numbers to its follow-up, Better Call Saul, which saw almost 7 million viewers and the highest demo numbers of any series premiere in cable history (beating previous record holder, HBO’s Deadwood.) It’ll be interesting to see how AMC uses The Walking Dead to spinoff it’s other zombie apocalypse show, as this launch has proven to be such a success. There’s still no word on what time of year AMC plans to air this new walker show, tentatively titled, “Cobalt,” and featuring brand new characters at the onset of The Walking Dead outbreak, set in Los Angeles. And while we’re talking numbers, let’s not forget Talking Dead, which, though opposite SNL 40 as well, was the third highest rated cable show for the week, behind only The Walking Dead and the NBA All-Star Game, pulling in over 5 million viewers. Pretty impressive for Chris Hardwick’s entertaining walker wrap-up.