October 15, 2012

THE SKED: “Walking Dead” Chomps On the Ratings


In a time of steadily declining ratings for network television  THE WALKING DEAD is proof that there’s still a staggeringly large audience available for scripted drama that viewers want to see.  Last night’s Season 3 premiere broke all the show’s existing records to become its highest-rated episode yet.  The 9PM telecast will have about a 5.5 rating in 18-49s–despite airing directly against Sunday Night Football, the highest-rated series on broadcast television, and despite AMC not being available on the DISH satellite service due to a long-running contract dispute.  Add to that what will probably be another 1.8 rating for the 10PM rebroadcast, and pending final football numbers, the cumulative number for Dead could well make it the highest rated show of the week, even beating the football game.  The 9PM airing alone should be up nearly a full ratings point above last year’s season finale (which held its repeat until 11:30PM), until now the highest-rated episode of the series.

The total audience numbers were equally overwhelming, with 10.9 million viewers at 9PM (plus another 3.5M at 10PM), compared to 9M for the Season 2 finale. The cumulative Dead rating should again be the highest rated show on all of television for the week, beating everything on broadcast and cable.

Note:  last season’s finale was followed immediately by an episode of the post-game talk show TALKING DEAD, which had a 2.3 18-49 rating and 4.3M total viewers.  The Season 3 premiere pushed Talking Dead to 11PM, lowering its lead-in by more than half, which reduced its number to about 1.1 in 18-49s and 2.1M total viewers–still very healthy numbers for a show that probably costs about a buck-fifty to produce.

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."