While Sunday night’s Season 4 finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead failed to shatter the ratings record set in the season premiere, it did establish a new high-water mark for a cliff-hanger episode.
According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the frenzied finale scared up 15.7 million viewers and an 8.0 in the all-important adults 18-49 demo, marking a slight decline (-2 percent) versus the Oct. 13 opener, which drew a series-high 16.1 million viewers and an 8.2 rating.
That said, the season capper improved significantly when compared to the Season 3 finale, which drew 12.4 million viewers and a 6.4 on March 31, 2013. In the dollar demo alone, last night’s installment was up 25 percent versus the most recent finale.
Here’s how ravenous The Walking Dead’s audience truly is: Last night’s show out-rated the Big Four broadcast networks combined by a factor of 21 percent (8.0 vs. 6.6).
As expected, the big turnout for The Walking Dead helped spur its lead-out to new heights. At 10 p.m., the Chris Hardwick-anchored chat show Talking Dead delivered a record 7.3 million viewers and a 3.7 in the demo. Star Andrew Lincoln, who plays the taciturn badass survivor Rick Grimes, appeared on Talking Dead for the first time last night, generating all sorts of online speculation about whether he’d make it out alive.
(Oddly enough, the hashtag #RickisBritish trended during Lincoln’s appearance on the after-show, which suggests that many die-hard Walking Dead enthusiasts know little about their favorite actor. Yes, he’s English, people. This is not a state secret.)
All told, this has been the most successful season of The Walking Dead, which averaged a phenomenal 6.8 in the demo over the course of its 16 episodes. The show has become so big that it slipped below a 6.0 only once this season. Moreover, that 8.0 delivery would have topped 12 of NBC’s 18 Sunday Night Football broadcasts.
“The linear television business is Dead and well,” said AMC president Charlie Collier, by way of heralding the ratings win. “Thanks to Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple, the other terrific executive producers and the entire cast, crew and network for working together to bring the fans (myself included) another unforgettable season of The Walking Dead.”