‘The Walking Dead’ Sets Ratings Records, Angry Dr. Who Fans, Look OUT!

by on February 11, 2013

in Entertainment

Laurie Holden in The Walking Dead, TV ratings record

Wait… What?  Are you wondering how can I slap out an article about The Walking Dead mid-season TV ratings record and pull in a Doctor Who editorial to boot?  You’ll see, and it will be a very relevant editorial.  Trust me!

It seems that every time The Walking Dead has a premiere or a finale, it manages to pull everyone in and set TV ratings records.

Case in point, the Sunday night mid-season return/premiere episode pulled in just over 12 million viewers.  That destroyed its last record which was set by the season 3 premiere that generated almost 11 million viewers.

And when AMC TV tallied up the premiere and encore episodes that aired just Sunday night/Monday morning, they ended up with a  total of almost 17 million viewers for the mid-season premiere episode.

AMC went on to point out that this number outperformed the average ratings for other basic network series like Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, and NCIS.

Zoinks.  That’s impressive for a cable network.  Don’t you think?

Ratings Are Great, How They Got There Isn’t

What scares me about this latest ratings record is that I don’t think this would have happened if they didn’t have a mid-season break.  We, the television viewing consumer, just sent a huge message to all of TV land, meaning network execs, advert execs, sponsors and the networks.  That message is that mid-season breaks work.  They generate interest and drive up the ratings numbers.

This mid-season break made it possible for a basic cable TV network to dust the four major networks in some specific numbers.  Something that traditionally, never used to happen.  That is, until AMC and The Walking Dead.  (And various other cable TV series of late.)

Matt Smith in 'Doctor Who,' series 7 split

And this record comes on the heels of the BBC responding/addressing Doctor Who fans that are pretty miffed about the BBC taking a cue from their American cousins and splitting up the seventh series (season) of Doctor Who.

In addressing the ire of the fans, the folks at the BBC called the season split a creative decision.  “we’re sorry you are unhappy about this.”  But they didn’t say it would not happen again.  And when records get crushed like they did for The Walking Dead, networks and their ecstatic advertisers are going to take note.

That note being not only can splitting up a season be a great excuse to sell TV seasons in more than one package, but they can drive up the number of eyeballs on an advertisers fare.

All win-win for the networks.

The really sad part is that fans will probably never get tired enough of this practice and quit a show.  They will come back.  How can you not when it’s a good show?

So the TV consumer is stuck, so to speak.  Even if we manage to muster the bravery to not watch, then I’m guessing, fans will then buy the DVDs.  But that’s just a guess. And if DVD’s are purchased, the network/distributors win.

I’m not saying consumers lose.

We love what we love and as ratings go up and advertisers reap their income, they continue to make the shows we love.  But sometimes, when things like DVD releases, part 1, part 2 come out, it’s a bit annoying compared to the day when whole seasons could be had in one purchase, not two.


AMC Press Release:

New York, NY – February 11, 2013 – Last night, AMC’s mid-season three premiere of “The Walking Dead” returned with its largest audience ever in series history delivering 12.3 million viewers at the 9pm premiere.  The previous record was 10.9 million viewers from the season three premiere on October 14, 2012. The episode is also the strongest telecast for a series in basic cable history for adults 18-49 with 7.7 million. These results shatter the hit series’ previous record with an increase of +6% (A18-49) over the October 14, 2012 season three premiere. “The Walking Dead” season three series average for adults 18-49 delivers 6.8 million outperforming other television series season averages including “Modern Family,” ‘The Big Bang Theory,” “Two and a Half Men,” and “NCIS.”  In addition to the 9 PM premiere, the show encored at 11 PM, midnight and 2am, delivering 16.6 million viewers for the night.

Following the 9 PM premiere of “The Walking Dead,” AMC premiered a new episode of “Talking Dead” at 10 PM. 4.1 million viewers tuned in to the live show.  Hosted by Chris Hardwick, “Talking Dead” is a companion series to “The Walking Dead” and features Hardwick and fans, actors, producers and other TV enthusiasts, discussing and dissecting that night’s “Dead” premiere. The series expanded to a full hour with the final 8 episodes of season three.

“When you look at numbers like this, the first thing that comes to mind is how grateful we are to the fans of this show.  They embrace ‘The Walking Dead’ in a way that we wanted to believe was possible but we never take for granted,” said Charlie Collier, AMC’s president. “The cast and crew put everything they have into making this show. They’re a phenomenally talented group who truly give their all. We congratulate everyone involved.”

Key Nielsen Highlights for the season three B premiere of “The Walking Dead”:

9pm airing – 7.3 HH rating with 12.3 million viewers; a +40%/+51% increase respectively over last year’s season 2B premiere
9pm airing – Adults 18-49 delivered 7.7 million viewers; a +44%  increase over last year’s season 2B premiere
9pm airing – Adults 25-54 delivered 6.7 million viewers; a +51% increase over last year’s season 2B premiere.
9p premiere, 11p, midnight and 2a airings grossed to 16.6 million viewers, 10.7 million Adults 18-49 and 8.9 million Adults 25-54

Key Nielsen Highlights for the season three B premiere of “Talking Dead”:

10pm:         2.6 HH rating with 4.1 million viewers, +225%/+371% vs. last year’s season 2B premiere.
10pm:         2.7 million Adults 18-49, +396% vs. last year’s season 2B premiere.
10pm:         2.3 million Adults 25-54, +369% vs. last year’s season 2B premiere.

Source: Nielsen. Live+SD. M-Sa 8P-11P/Su 7P-11P. The Walking Dead Season 3B Premiere (2/10/13); Season 3 To Date 10/14/12-2/10/13 vs. 12/13 Season to Date (9/24/12-2/7/13) Broadcast and Cable.  9/13/93-2/7/12,   Ad Supported Cable, Telecast Level Data.  Excluding Sports, News, Specials.  A18-49 (000).  3B Premiere (2/10/13) vs 2B Premiere (2/12/12).  Qual Avail Upon Request.

Hailed by Entertainment Weekly as “the greatest thriller ever produced for television,” “The Walking Dead” has become a juggernaut on social media. The series currently has close to 15 million likes on Facebook and last night “The Walking Dead” was a top trend on Twitter for the night of the mid-season premiere. Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, the Emmy Award-winning series tells the story of the months and years that follow the zombie apocalypse. It follows a group of survivors, led by police officer Rick Grimes, who travel in search of a safe and secure home.


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