The midseason premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead did its usual number on the rest of the TV landscape, scaring up 15.8 million viewers and a whopping 8.2 rating in the adults 18-49 demo.
Season 4 resumed Sunday night against NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics and a special live tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ triumphant arrival in the U.S. On the premium cable front, Dead battled HBO’s killer new drama series, True Detective, and Showtime’s bibulous comedy, Shameless.
While Sunday’s installment of TWD was down slightly in overall reach when compared to the Oct. 13 season premiere (16.1 million), it matched its earlier demo delivery. Meanwhile, Dead grew nearly 35 percent versus its Season 3 midwinter premiere (6.1 on Feb. 10, 2013).
Dead remains the No. 1 show in the dollar demo among all scripted series, broadcast or cable. Only the NFL delivers a bigger crush of viewers in the target demo.
Through the first nine episodes of Season 4, Dead is averaging 13.3 million viewers and a 6.8 in the 18-49 demo. By comparison, ESPN’s Monday Night Football enjoys a slight lead among total viewers (13.7 million viewers), but falls well short in the demo with a 5.2 average. The second highest-rated scripted show on TV, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, is averaging a 5.3 in the demo.
To further contextualize Dead’s dominance over the TV landscape, the 5.7 it delivered with its lowest-rated episode on Nov. 24 beat nearly every single scripted episode that has aired on a Big Four broadcast network since the season began. Only a special Sept. 26 bonus installment of The Big Bang Theory (6.1) outperformed Dead’s weakest episode.
“With a number of high-profile choices on television last night, for The Walking Dead to deliver record ratings is remarkable. Thanks to the fans, who have been so supportive of this show in so many ways. We share your passion for this world,” said Charlie Collier, AMC president, by way of acknowledging the show’s rabid fan base. “I speak for everyone at AMC in expressing my sincere appreciation and our shared excitement for the journey ahead. Chocolate pudding for all!”
Per Nielsen, the 9-10 p.m. EST segment of NBC’s Olympics coverage averaged a 7.5 in the demo, giving Dead a 9 percent advantage. CBS’ Beatles tribute drew a 2.3 in the hour.