April 1, 2013

UPDATED–THE SKED: “Game Of Thrones,” “Walking Dead,” “The Bible” All Huge On Sunday


More numbers have been released for Sunday night’s event cable airings, and it was a big night for everyone.  The most voracious bite came from the Season 3 finale of THE WALKING DEAD, setting a new record with 12.4M total viewers for the 9PM initial airing alone.  It also had 8.1M 18-49 viewers, making it the highest rated show of the week in broadcast or cable television.  In fact, the full season of Walking Dead set a new mark in the history of television by outrating every series everywhere, moving ahead of The Big Bang Theory and more than a point ahead of The Voice.  The giant finale also sparked a record for TALKING DEAD, its weekly post-game show, with 5.2M total viewers, 3.3M of them under 50 (around a 2.5 rating).

Meanwhile, the finale of THE BIBLE on History Channel drew 11.7M Easter Sunday viewers.  (History claims that in the final hour of the 2-hour telecast, Bible had 12.33M viewers and Walking Dead, contrary to AMC’s tally, had only 12.29M, to which the only reasonable response is–honey, you’re both pretty.)  UPDATE:  The disparity between the AMC and History Channel numbers is due to the fact that Walking Dead actually ran 65 minutes on Sunday–apparently there was a slight bump in its number in that extra 5 minutes, and if that’s deducted, Bible was slightly ahead for the literal 9-10PM hour.  This was not, however, a series record, as the premiere had 13.1M total viewers.  Bible skewed much older than Walking Dead, but still managed to pull in 3.9M 18-49s.

Even with that massive competition, fans of GAME OF THRONES turned out like Dothraki warriors for the show’s Season 3 premiere, setting a new series record with 4.4M viewers for the initial 9PM airing (up 200,000 from the show’s previous high) and 6.7M for all the night’s runs.  It scored a 2.4 rating in 18-49s at 9PM, with over 3M viewers in that demo.  Considering that only 25% of US households subscribe to HBO, that’s proportionately stronger than the zombies and deities, and makes a Season 4 renewal (not that it was ever in doubt) a foregone conclusion.

This sign of the times is worth noting.  During the 9PM hour last night, approximately 29 million people were watching just 3 cable networks:  AMC, History Channel and HBO.  In that same hour, the 4 broadcast networks were watched by a total of 22.55 million viewers.  It becomes even more lopsided when the comparison is limited to viewers under 50:  a total of 15 million viewers for the 3 cable networks against just 8 million or so for the 4 broadcasters. This is obviously not apples to apples, since the cable networks hosted tremendous events while it was a slow night for broadcast, with reruns on FOX and NBC in that hour.  But still–it’s a result that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."