Nielsen estimates that the regular-timeslot telecast of the zombie skein averaged 15.7 million total viewers — a 17% week-to-week gain (from 13.47 million) and 26% bigger than its year-ago season finale (12.42 million). Among all episodes to date, Sunday’s finale ranks third, behind only the season 4 premiere last fall (16.11 million) and the show’s mid-season return on Feb. 9 (15.76 million).
In adults 18-49, “The Walking Dead” averaged a 8.0 rating (10.2 million viewers in the age group), up 20% week-to-week and about 25% vs. last year. It more than tripled the top rating for any broadcast entertainment series on Sunday (ABC’s “Resurrection” did a 2.3 rating).
The post-“Walking Dead” discussion show “Talking Dead” drew a series record 7.3 million viewers and a 3.7 rating in adults 18-49. Its 18-49 rating nearly equaled the combined totals of the three 10 p.m. dramas on broadcast (3.9 for “The Mentalist,” “Revenge” and “Crisis”).
The season-four finale of “The Walking Dead” also dominated TV-related Twitter activity, and was the No. 1 non-sports related program of the night on Twitter across all cable and broadcast networks, with 1.01 million show-related tweets from 356,770 unique authors, generating a total of 63.11 million Twitter TV impressions, according to Nielsen. Twitter activity peaked at 9:22 pm EST with 25,183 tweets, representing 84.6 percent of all television-related Twitter activity at that time.
After averaging a 2.7 rating in adults 18-49 and about 5.2 million viewers overall in Live+ same-day numbers for its first season in the fall of 2010, “The Walking Dead” has consistently seen its numbers rise with each half season. It went from a 3.4 demo rating in the fall of 2011, to a 3.9 in the winter of 2012, and then a 5.3 rating for its fall 2012 episodes and a 5.8 for its early 2013 episodes. Last fall, it swelled to a 6.6 demo rating, and its eight episodes in February and March of this year averaged a 6.9
Similarly, in total viewers it has gone from under 5 million in fall 2010, to 13 million last fall and now 13.7 million for its eight episodes in 2014.
And, of course, “Walking Dead” grows its ratings significantly when DVR playback is included. In 2013, its original episodes went from a 6.2 demo rating and 12.2 million viewers in same-night numbers to an 8.6 and 16.5 million in Nielsen’s Live+7 (DVR playback within seven days).