March 19, 2012

THE SKED: “Walking Dead” Devours More Ratings Records

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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This morning we anticipated that the season finale of THE WALKING DEAD on AMC would outrate anything on network television last night, but that didn’t do justice to Dead‘s accomplishment.  In the finale’s initial airing (it was repeated later in the evening), it broke Dead‘s own record as the highest-rated cable television drama ever, and was watched by 9 million viewers.  6 million of those were 18-49, which should translate into a rating over 4.5–which would make it one of the highest rated series on all of broadcast television this season, let alone cable.  Both the total viewer and the 18-49 numbers were up 50% from Dead‘s Season 1 finale, so the show’s audience is growing as voraciously as its Walkers eat human flesh.  

How much higher can Walking Dead go?  The show improved markedly over the last few episodes of the season, and that can only help keep viewer interest high during the hiatus.  

Things will come down to earth for AMC next Sunday, as Mad Men, despite all its awards and acclaim–and despite the witty ads AMC aired during Dead‘s finale last night–has never been anywhere close to Walking Dead in popularity.  Mad Men‘s 4th season finale in October 2010 was watched by a comparatively tiny 2.4 million people, and had a 0.8 rating in 18-49s.  Those particular eyeballs are hugely upscale, making them valuable to advertisers even in diminished numbers–but still.  On the other hand, having both the popular show on cable and the most praised on all of television isn’t a bad deal for AMC–it’s as though Harvey Weinstein released both The Artist and Avatar in the same year. 

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."