The Easter Sunday finale of History's The Bible pulled off quite a miracle. It was the first cable show to beat The Walking Dead (which had its season finale last night) in total viewers in some time. However, The Bible still didn't come close to AMC's megapopular zombie show in the dollar demographic.
The final episode of The Bible focused on the story of Jesus and the resurrection; it ran opposite The Walking Dead in the 9 p.m. hour and pulled in 12.33 million total viewers and 11.7 million viewers on average for the entire two-hour broadcast, according to a statement from History. The same statement pegged The Walking Dead at 12.29 million total viewers for the 9-10 hour, but AMC begged to differ. It claims to have attracted 12.4 million total viewers.
The difference appears to be in the last five minutes of the gory neo-Western (which is now an acknowledged hit with women as well as men). The Walking Dead ran until 10:05 and racked up the remaining 110,000 pairs of eyeballs; The Bible ended at 10 p.m. on the nose. So for the full program, The Walking Dead won, but while the programs were going head-to-head, The Bible pulled in a slightly higher number of total viewers.
This is all a little academic. Both shows register as major wins for their respective networks. However, in the 18-49 demographic, The Walking Dead delivered a whopping 8.1 million watchers; The Bible attracted 3.8 million in the demo (along with 4.6 million adults 25-54, against which the network also guarantees).
The Walking Dead has become the most popular show not merely on cable but on television overall; in a weak broadcast season, the network's 5.6 million-viewer demo average is the envy of The Voice, The Big Bang Theory, American Idol and Modern Family.