Whether they’re going up against zombies or dragons, the broadcast networks can’t seem to catch a break in the Sunday night 9 p.m. slot.
According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, last night’s installment of HBO’s Game of Thrones scared up a staggering 6.95 million viewers, breaking the previous record (6.64 million) it set during the April 6 season premiere.
Titled “Oathkeeper,” the episode averaged a 3.7 in the adults 18-49 demo, up one-tenth of a ratings point from the season opener’s 3.6 rating. All told, Game of Thrones tied CBS, NBC and Fox’s combined performance in the demo at 9 p.m.
The uptick in Thrones’ deliveries—last night’s show was up 5 percent versus the April 20 telecast—coincided with another weak performance by the Big Four. ABC’s Resurrection dropped another 10 percent in the demo, notching a series-low 1.9 rating, while CBS’ The Good Wife was flat with a 1.3. NBC’s Believe showed no change with a 1.1 rating, bringing its overall time-slot average to a 1.1.
Fox’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey was unchanged with a 1.4 in the dollar demo.
Thrones’ dominion over the TV landscape is a recent phenomenon, although the show has grown steadily from week to week and season to season. Last spring’s 10-episode run averaged 4.97 million total viewers and a 2.6 in the demo.
As spectacular as Thrones’ rise has been, nothing can lay a mitt on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Season 4 of the zombie apocalypse drama delivered a phenomenal 6.8 in the demo, making it the single highest-rated scripted series on TV. It, too, haunts the Sunday 9 p.m. slot.
While Thrones and The Walking Dead have been renewed for future seasons, the broadcast competition is far less secure. The aforementioned Believe is almost certainly a goner, and while CBS has picked up The Good Wife for another season, Cosmos is probably a one-off. With a 1.6 in the demo, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s science spectacular is quite literally in the middle of the freshman-series pack; that said, the astrophysicist told Adweek that he very likely wouldn’t be interested in hosting Cosmos for a second trip around the multiverse.
ABC, meanwhile, is expected to commit to at least a limited second run of Resurrection, which currently stands as the season’s No. 3 new series. (The eerie drama is tied with Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, averaging a 2.6 in the demo through its first seven episodes.)
Elsewhere on the cable dial, AMC’s Mad Men was up 17 percent to 2.02 million viewers and a 0.7 rating, while lead-in Turn dropped to a series-low 1.3 million viewers and a 0.3. HBO’s Silicon Valley was flat (1.53 million/0.8), and Veep jumped 25 percent to a 0.5 rating.