walking dead finale recap
Image courtesy of AMC

AMC’s “The Walking Dead” wrapped its highest-rated season yet Sunday with more monster numbers, including a series record for a finale and drawing more than four times as many young adults as the night’s top-rated broadcast entertainment series.

According to preliminary Nielsen estimates, the 90-minute season-ender of “Walking Dead” averaged an 8.2 rating in adults 18-49 and 15.8 million viewers overall — up about 3% in both categories vs. its year-ago finale. It was also up week-to-week by 17% in the demo and by 14% in total viewers.

This is the second highest demo rating (tied with its season 4 premiere and behind only the season 5 premiere) and the third largest overall viewership total in the show’s 70-episode history.

By comparison, the hottest new show of this season — Fox’s “Empire” — wrapped earlier this month with a lower demo rating (6.9) but more total viewers (17.62 million).

For the season, “Walking Dead” averaged a 7.3 rating among adults 18-49 and 14.2 million viewers overall in same-night ratings — increases of about 10% vs. 2013-14 and up about 30% vs. 2012-13.

It’s easily the television season’s No. 1-rated entertainment series in 18-49, averaging about 2 million more viewers in the demo than “The Voice” and about 3 million more than “Empire,” according to Nielsen’s “live plus same-day” averages. This is especially impressive considering that AMC is available in about 20 million fewer homes than the Big Four networks.

“Walking Dead” wasn’t quite able to continue its incredible streak of delivering higher numbers with each half season, as this year’s winter/spring edition (7.3 in 18-49, 14.2 million viewers overall) came in a bit below last fall’s averages (7.5 in 18-49, 14.6 million total viewers).

In adults 18-49, “Dead” drew more than six times as many viewers as the top-rated broadcast program in the 9 o’clock hour (ABC’s “Secrets and Lies” and Fox’s “The Last Man on Earth”). And among all Sunday broadcast entertainment series, “Walking” rated more than four times higher than top show “Once Upon a Time,” which averaged a preliminary 1.7 rating in the 8 o’clock hour.

Following the “Walking Dead” finale, the season finale of “Talking Dead” drew its highest ratings ever (3.9 rating in 18-49, 7.5 million viewers overall). For the season, it ranks 10th among all primetime entertainment series in 18-49.

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