‘The Walking Dead’ Premiere Ratings Down, But Still Monster

AMC's 'The Walking Dead' Premiere Ratings

Opener Beats Football, Bests Fox's 'Empire' Premiere By 10%

After years of defying ratings gravity by growing its audience with each season premiere, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” finally looked mortal as it kicked off its sixth season Sunday night.

According to “live plus same-day” estimates from Nielsen, the zombie drama averaged a monster 7.43 rating in adults 18-49 and 14.6 million viewers overall — up slightly over the show’s season 5 averages but below its fall 2014 premiere (8.65 in 18-49, 17.29 million total viewers). That year-ago opener remains the show’s highest-rated telecast on record.

Last March’s fifth-season finale averaged an 8.16 rating in 18-49 and 15.78 million viewers overall.

“The Walking Dead” was the No. 1 program on Sunday night, even topping NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” Its 7.4 rating in 18-49 also exceeds all broadcast entertainment telecasts since the start of the television season on Sept. 21, beating the premiere of “Empire” (6.7) by 10%.

AMC will release “live plus-3” ratings information on Friday for Sunday’s “Dead” premiere, which could garner larger percentage gains than usual due to its expanded 90-minute running time. In addition to Major League Baseball playoff action, competition for live viewers also included the big-market NFL game on NBC between the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants.

On social media, “The Walking Dead” was mentioned in nearly 1 million tweets Sunday (956,480), generating 3.6 billion potential impressions via 825,000 unique users. It was also the No. 1 show Sunday on Facebook.

Series creator Robert Kirkman told Variety at New York Comic-Con last week that season six of “The Walking Dead” would be the “most intense” yet. And in his review of the season premiere, Variety critic Brian Lowry said “Walking Dead” appears to be “very much at the top of its game,” calling it a “pretty irresistible feast.”

The show’s return came one week after “Fear the Walking Dead” ended its successful first season on AMC with a 3.4 rating in 18-49 and 6.86 million viewers overall. These numbers rose in L+3 to a 5.15 in the demo and 10.11  million total viewers, capping the highest-rated season for any program in cable history.

Fox International Channels, meanwhile, announced strong international ratings for the season-six premiere, which was up 17% in rating vs. last season across 18 metered markets and delivered five times the channel’s primetime average.

In the U.K., where “Walking Dead” was up against the Lithuania-England soccer match on ITV, Fox was up 11% vs. last year’s premiere and drew more than four times the audience of its nearest rival. In Germany, it drew the largest viewership to Fox ever, resulting in a record 3.7% daily share of the persons 14-59 in pay TV homes. And in Spain, the premiere episode drew the largest audience for Fox to date, commanding a 2.4% share of live viewing for the timeslot.

First Look: “The Walking Dead” Season 6 Images

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  1. why? says:

    The Boring Dead… This show was great 1st 2 season now its a complete pile of drizzle

  2. Sean says:

    The black and white is extremely annoying, They should have separated the timelines with some kind of Border or something instead.

  3. stasha says:

    Maybe they should do a junk spin off series…oh wait.

  4. Paul Colely says:

    Dead-Head and avid fan here. Got hooked on ‘Days Gone Bye’ and haven’t stopped watching. The Walkers-Rotters-Roamers-Biters are just the backdrop. TWD is about the characters and how they survive when the world has gone to Sh$@1. The show has survived show runner changes, slow scripts and various other plateaus, but it is still great entertainment. Can’t wait until Sunday’s episode.

  5. Cagney says:

    TWD premiere was not that great. Taking the zombies for a walk was not the best idea however, they needed a reason for the zombies to head to Alexandria and that was it. Btw I think Enid is the horn blower and part of the Wolves. Daryl needs to speak more and get a haircut. Glenn is to wishy washy to have lasted this long. Killing off Noah and Tyreese was a bad move. Sasha and Tara would have been the better choices. As for FTWD? Unlikable characters and a poor storyline did that show in.

  6. I was pretty bored by the season 6 opener. Seriously? a 90 minute parade watch? Why in the world would you just burn them? Why take the chance of letting them out? It seemed stupid and arrogant and risky. During Talking Dead when TBTB were patting themselves on the back, I knew it was all over. Once the creators think something is great, it dives. Plus the grainy filming effect was annoying. I pay for tv, I want high quality.

    • Tiffany says:

      Umm, you do realize that they shoot on film? 16mm film to be exact. They are one of the last TV shows still standing that does. They didn’t add the film grain, it’s always there.

  7. Margaret says:

    I love FTWD.I am the smart ones who knows that the TWD and FTWD are two completely different shows. The only comparison is they have zombies.
    Excuse me I mean walkers.

  8. Rob says:

    This show has taken a dive. First off, spoiler alert: In the season 6 opener you have a pit full with thousands of zombies, yet the writers decided the best thing to do was have a parade, when a simple Molotov cocktail would have solved the problem. Somehow, this seems more like a symbolic gesture by the writers, suggesting that TWD viewers are a lot like Zombies in a pit, about to be lead on a parade. Leaves me wondering, is that how the team at TWD sees us. That we’ll just watch anything if herded properly?

    Intelligent, creative writing will yield a higher number of viewers and that was not the case here. I was looking forward to the new season, hoping for something better and they dropped the ball. This entire episode was so horribly written, that if it keeps up, I’ll stop watching.

  9. Nicole says:

    I have been watching the walking dead for all 6 seasons from the very begininng. I can actualy remember sitting on my couch watching the previews for the piolt and feeling excited and grossed out at the same time! I had no idea it was a comic book first which has opened up a whole nother world for me (which is awesome) and I even attended my first Comic-con. I cancelled my cable last year for expense purposes and ended up waiting to watch season 5 on netflix. I watched the premiere on AMC this past Sunday and realized how frustrating it was to try and watch one of my favorite shows for 3 minutes at a time being interrupted by 7 minutes of commercials in between! Ugh! I can’t beleive I’m stuck in this crappy cable contract now, what a waste…I could have just spent that money on downloads and DVDs. Walking Dead fans are still out there and watching this show, just not so many on cable…and now, I remember why!

  10. Yeah Niel says:

    TWD iloveyou all cast <3

  11. melissa says:

    I believe dearl needs a love interest I would be more then happy.to sacafice my time for such role.

  12. chris says:

    Neilson ratings have become meaningless

    Factoring in Cord cutters am sure the viewership increased….I dont have cable, I bought Season 6 HD digital for $40…through my xbox….there is only a handful of shows I currently watch….walking dead and the leftovers are my current shows finished the strain and fear the dead last week….

  13. Cassie House says:

    Please don’t tell me that 14 million views is “low”. Some shows can’t even get 4 million views.

  14. JesterJ49 says:

    Series creator Robert Kirkman? If you are referring to on-screen that should be Frank Darabont, Kirkman created to comic series and an executive producer TV-wise…

  15. the ratings are not down because the show sux. The ratings are down because people are fed up getting all the commercials on AMC shoved down their throat so we all result to waiting for netflix or other apps to have it, others will download it. Thus the reason ratings are low.

  16. Lezlie Corya says:

    I don’t have cable or sattilite , only tv antenna, could put on a channel poor people can watch too.

  17. Lady death says:

    Best show ever makes you think ..this could happen in real life…hope we can have. more seasons to come.thanks to all of you making this show happen.like i said best tv show

  18. We didn’t like it. They put to much info and were spread thin in one show. And doing the whole Pulp Fiction mixed up events thing just didn’t have the same appeal. I know they wanted to cut to the chase with some thrilling action packed scenes, and did “flashbacks” of what THEY WOULD HAVE SHOWED to lead up to it, but it’s insulting that they think we are a bunch of simplistic knuckleheads who don’t need quality. Just my .02, and sorry, although I respect differing opinions, it still will be my feeling.

  19. I WAS THERE! The world premiere sweepstakes contest gave me ring side seats! AWESOME! JUST AWESOME!

  20. Jason says:

    I know a lot of people download it and watch via torrents because of there not being any commercials.

  21. Mary says:

    TWC does not include AMC on its basic packet anymore

  22. Kevin says:

    Nielsen ratings are archaic.
    Many of the shows viewers DVR the show because they either can’t watch it at that time slot or because of the gross overplayed amount of commercials they squeeze in there.

    I love this show very much.
    It may just become the longest running thriller series on television.

    • They include DVR numbers. Hence the “live plus 1 day” and “live plus 3 day” statistics. Those “+ days” are DVR numbers and probably AMC.com viewership numbers as well.

      I do wonder if they also include views from pay-per-episode subscriptions like Amazon.com

  23. B13T7XZGCP says:

    As long as it doesn’t gg below 10 million viewers then its all good, Also got a gut feeling it may be pick next weeks episode! :)

  24. david says:

    I did wonder why they didn’t just torch the huge pit of walkers. I get that the trucks would eventually burn up but the walkers would be goo crisp by then

    • Zak says:

      Yeah I thought that too or grenade them…Maybe they didn’t have grenades though or want to waste any full, anyways we’ll have to see how next one goes.

    • If they torched the WALKERS it would use up all of their fuel I’m sure and that would be just as bad,Rick idea was a good one but those dame Wolves have other plans!

    • Adam says:

      me and a friend talked about that and the best explanation we came up with was that the fire would of more than likely drawn more zombies and possibly unwanted humans to come explore the area and find alexandria.

  25. shawna says:

    I don’t think no one liked all the black and white flash backs . It certainly threw me off guard. Last season was by far the best I’ve ever seen in the walking dead. none the less, I’m still and always will be a huge fan of #TWD!

  26. Carolyn says:

    I do not understand how this can be news until the DVR numbers are factored in.

  27. Barb Silvestro says:


    FTWD was only disappointing to some viewers because it was simply not TWD. Once you open your heart to it, and paid attention, it actually is quite good. As far as the first episode of the new season – it was a bit confusing at first but any intelligent viewer realized quickly we were getting backstory in black-and-white. As always the cinematography and make up were superb, The comedic one-liners during this show or just plain funny character building really continued this episode. One reason so many fans love the show is because of the relationships between the characters – it is not just zombie killing horror, there are friendships and lobster rolls and do your meaningful relationships. The actors, directors and writers have once again done a wonderful job with this. Morgan & Rick, the Carter storyline… All done so well!
    True fans have no complaints- and maybe ratings were low because some of us DVR and watch the next day commercial free 💜

  28. david says:

    Yeah, I think FTWD took a lot of the luster from the original for some reason. Maybe AMC can bring back Frank Darabont to get the ball rolling on FTWD so people will become interested again.

  29. Russell says:

    It’s probably because the ran that Lame “Fear the Walking Dead” out there in the weeks before.. in “Fear…” They ran people I don’t identify with.. In fact.. I don’t care about.” Now it is quite obvious the writers are grasping for new storylines.. They have so many that people would be interested in. But they are not going to follow up with them they are going to create a new one. That’s Risky.. Because the group thus far has gotten by on wits.. but then they do something half-witted like letting out thousands of zombies out.. Then Ala the “Ten Commandments” You have Rick leading a Zombie exodus.. Sigh.. Comical but sigh…

  30. Jason says:

    It was also due to the fact that it was thanksgiving weekend in Canada

  31. Marnie says:

    The ratings probably do not take in consideration of the fans who got to watch the premiere in NYC on Friday.

    • Me!I watched it again when I return home and it was even BETTER! The premiere was AWESOME but it had a lot of great stuff going also,like THE WHOLE CAST and surprises like Shane,Beth,Tdog,Hershey and Merle,but Shane blow Rick,Daryl,Glen,Carol and Carl hearts up! It was SO BEAUTIFUL!

  32. too long time between the seasons thats whats making them lose peoples interest

  33. Ky says:

    First, I imagine the absolute mediocrity of Fear the Walking Dead kind of sucked some of the enthusiasm for the actual show. Second, let’s admit it: watching a show that is basically Rick Grimes’ Poor Life Choices Endanger Everyone…for six freakin’ years? I don’t blame people for tuning out. Honestly, I’m kind of hoping he dies this season just so something NEW can happen.

  34. kelly says:

    People also have walking dead premiere parties!

  35. Bill B. says:

    The Walking Dead has little chance of diminishing any time soon, but the not bad Fear the Walking Dead is only going to cause people to get tired of zombies. It’s inevitable.

  36. Carlos S says:

    Fear The Walking Dead was a monumental disappointment. Simply put, the show did not do what it was proposed to do: give us the story of the start of the outbreak. All it did was set up TWD West coast edition, with less interesting characters and a bunch of teenaged idiots. Frankly, I hated every minute of the show, but I still watched it because I was so hungry for TWD that I could not resist. After six episodes, I still do not know anything about how the out break started, but I know how a six block part of LA fared throughout the process…..which was freaking stupid.

    • Marcia says:

      I felt exactly the same about FTWD. Boring storyline, bickering characters, and basically no zombies. Seeing TWD premiere was a feast to my eyes. A “cast of thousands” of walkers and characters I know, love, and care what happens to. They could kill off the entire cast of FTWD, and I’d be happy.

    • Tpreston says:

      I’m pretty sure before it ever aired they mentioned that it would NOT tell anyone how the outbreak started but instead gave us a glimpse of how quickly the world went to crap while Rick was in his coma. So it did do exactly what they said it would.

      • Yep. After a few episodes FTWD got more interesting and I began to like some of the characters (unfortunately, they killed the character I liked most).

        Season 1 of TWD had a lot of flaws, but the series got much better. I expect FTWD to continue to improve and be more interesting.

      • Krystal says:

        Exactly Tpreston! Its a completely different take on what TWD didn’t show us. Those expecting it to be the same as TWD would be disappointed. And I remember being bored during season 1 of TWD. Yes, it moved faster than FTWD, but it took 2 seasons to fall in love with the characters and to really get going. Give FTWD another season before writing it off.

    • Karen says:

      Yes!!! That’s EXACTLY how I feel.

    • ac says:

      Couldn’t agree more…

  37. Lydia says:

    Black and white killed it. I feel asleep in between1

    • Mrs. Cleaver says:

      I so agree with Carlos. Fear The Dead was a boring “90210 Family Drama” with an occasional zombie & an annoying family.
      I still love TWD but less than I used to as Rick is so unlikeable most of the time. I now watch cause I still care about the supporting cast.Long live Daryl, Glenn, Abe, Carl, Judith, Carol & Maggie!

    • Black and White made it better.

      • Theresa says:

        I think that Rick makes TWD, the supporting cast is great, but Rick is TWD. He has to be the way he is, look what happens when people dont listen to him. If you had to deal with people the way he has you have to make tough choices and that is what he is willing to do. I will always support him and his cast members, Carol. Daryl Carl, Maggie, Glen and baby Judith, Marchonne. They all are vital at this point, but as we know they will not all live forever.

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