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Better Off Dead: AMC Zombie Hit Tears Into Sunday Night

Episode 2 of The Walking Dead draws 13.9 million viewers

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Like the fence meant to keep out hoards of ravenous Walkers, ratings for AMC’s monster hit The Walking Dead last night sagged a bit but did not buckle.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the second installment of The Walking Dead delivered 13.9 million viewers and a 7.1 rating in the adults 18-49 demo. And while that marked a 14 percent drop in total viewers and a 13 percent decline in the dollar demo, the show remains all but untouchable in its ability to reach younger adults. (With an estimated draw of 9 million adults 18-49, Dead’s target demo accounts for a whopping 65 percent of its overall deliveries.)

Not only is the zombie apocalypse drama beating every scripted series in its time slot, but Dead is also out-gunning everything on TV not associated with the National Football League. Season to date, the most-watched and highest-rated scripted broadcast was a special 8:30 p.m. installment of CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, which drew 20.4 million viewers and a 6.1 rating on Sept. 26.

In head-to-head competition, scripted broadcast can’t lay a finger on the Dead. ABC’s troubled freshman drama Betrayal last night drew a mere 3.51 million viewers and a 0.9 in the demo, while a delayed airing of CBS’ The Amazing Race/The Good Wife delivered 8.87 million viewers and a 1.9/8.99 million viewers and a 1.4 rating.

The only TV property that is immune to the Dead’s charms is NBC’s Sunday Night Football. A hotly anticipated meeting between Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos and his former Indianapolis Colts squad averaged 26.9 million viewers and a 10.0 in the demo. At 9 p.m., the offensive showdown scared up an estimated 27.5 million viewers and a 9.8 rating, beating Dead by 38 percent.

Despite the slippage in the face of the NFL’s huge prime-time game, last night’s Dead now stands as the second most-watched and highest-rated episode in the show’s four-season history. With great ratings come even greater ad rates; according to media buyers, a package buy on the Dead’s Sunday premiere/Talking Dead/encore block averages out to around $347,000 per 30-second spot.

Unit costs for season premieres and finales are much higher, fetching as much as $569,000 per :30.

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