Weekly Ratings: ‘Walking Dead,’ College Basketball Lead the Way; CBS Tops Among Networks

The Walking Dead Finale Ratings
Courtesy of AMC

The most-watched March Madness tournament in 25 years has been good news for CBS, which won last week’s ratings race with ease, though it was AMC’s “The Walking Dead” that finished atop the program rankings in key demos.

The zombie drama wrapped its fifth season with a huge 8.2 rating/22 share in adults 18-49 and 15.78 million viewers overall — up a bit vs. last year and among the show’s three highest rated telecasts to date in both categories. It was the No. 1 program of the week in 18-49, 25-54 (8.0/20) and most other key demos while ranking No. 2 to CBS drama “NCIS” (16.23 million) in total viewers.

Post-show discussion series “Talking Dead” rose to all-time highs behind the “Walking Dead” finale (3.9/12 in 18-49, 7.52 million viewers overall), ranking No. 2 among all series for the week in the demo.

The performance of both “Dead” programs is especially impressive considering that AMC is available in about 20 million fewer homes than the Big Four broadcasters.

Another cable program that outperformed everything on the broadcast nets in 18-49 was TBS’ telecast of the nail-biter college basketball tournament game between Notre Dame and undefeated Kentucky on Saturday. It did a strong 4.9/19 in 18-49 while drawing 14.75 million total viewers — the largest audience ever for a basketball game on cable.

CBS also drew 14.75 million viewers (and a 4.3/18 in 18-49) for its most-watched basketball game of the week, the late Sunday afternoon contest between Duke and Gonzaga. In primetime, the Eye’s top hoops telecast was Thursday’s matchup between Kentucky and West Virginia (2.7/9 in 18-49, 8.04 million viewers overall).

Including college basketball, CBS could claim half of the week’s top 10 broadcasts in 18-49. It also had the week’s eight most-watched broadcast dramas overall.

NBC, which continues to lead the season in adults 18-49, was paced by “The Voice” on Monday and Tuesday but didn’t have any other top 20 shows. Its new Tuesday comedy hour of “Undateable” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 5.18 million viewers overall) and “One Big Happy” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.79 million viewers overall) fell off from their week-earlier premieres, though lead-in “The Voice” dropped some too.

In L+3 numbers, “Undateable” retained 81% of its second-season premiere score in 18-49 (1.76 vs. 2.18), while “One Big Happy” held a softer 72% (1.40 vs. 1.94).

ABC had more than its share and is the only network up vs. last year, but its “Scandal” hit a season low even as it was again the night’s top series in 18-49. And there wasn’t much to shout about at Fox, which was shut out of the top 20 one week after its “Empire” wrapped with big numbers.

At CW, “iZombie” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.99 million viewers overall) retained 80% of its premiere 18-49 score in L+3 (1.02 vs. 1.27), with at least part of that decline due to a 9% week-to-week falloff for lead-in “The Flash” (1.93 vs. 2.13).

 

TOP PRIMETIME NETWORKS
(Week of March 23-29, 2015; live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
CBS                              1.8/6
TBS                              1.6/5
ABC                              1.4/5
NBC                             1.4/5
Univision                      1.1/4
AMC                             1.0/4
Fox                               1.0/4
USA                              0.6/2
Telemundo                   0.6/2
CW                               0.5/2

Total Viewers (in millions)
CBS                              8.81
ABC                              6.06
NBC                             5.81
TBS                              4.62
Fox                               3.73
Univision                      2.94
AMC                             2.12
Fox News                    1.72
USA                             1.72
Telemundo                   1.47

TOP PRIMETIME PROGRAMS
(Week of March 23-29, 2015; live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
1.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 8.2/23
2.  College basketball, Saturday: Kentucky-Notre Dame (TBS), 4.9/19
3.  Talking Dead (AMC), 3.9/13
4.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 3.4/10
5.  Modern Family (ABC), 2.9/9
6.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 2.8/10
7.  College basketball, Thursday: Kentucky-West Virginia (CBS), 2.7/9
8.  College basketball, Friday: Utah-Duke (CBS), 2.5/9
9.  College basketball, Thursday: North Carolina-Wisconsin (TBS), 2.3/8
9.  60 Minutes (CBS), 2.3/8
9.  Survivor (CBS), 2.3/8
9.  Scandal (ABC), 2.3/7
13.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 2.2/8
13.  NCIS (CBS), 2.2/7
15.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 2.1/7
15.  The Goldbergs (ABC), 2.1/7
15.  Black-ish (ABC), 2.1/7
15.  Scorpion (CBS), 2.1/6
19.  Dancing With the Stars (ABC), 2.0/6
20.  The Middle (ABC), 1.9/7
20.  2 Broke Girls (CBS), 1.9/7
20.  Mike & Molly (CBS), 1.9/6

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  NCIS (CBS), 16.23 
2.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 15.78
3.  College basketball, Saturday: Kentucky-Notre Dame (TBS), 14.75
4.  NCIS: New Orleans (CBS), 14.42
5.  Dancing With the Stars (ABC), 13.85
6.  60 Minutes (CBS), 13.82
7.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 12.20
8.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 11.62
9.  Madam Secretary (CBS), 11.47
10.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 10.08
11.  Scorpion (CBS), 9.70
12.  Survivor (CBS), 9.64
13.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 9.39
14.  Person of Interest (CBS), 9.15
15.  The Good Wife (CBS), 8.88
16.  Modern Family (ABC), 8.71
17.  American Idol-Wednesday (Fox), 8.46
18.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 8.18
19.  CSI: Cyber (CBS), 8.16
20.  The Blacklist (NBC), 8.12

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