Ratings: ‘The Walking Dead’ Down, Still Huge in Return; Small Tune-In for HBO’s ‘Vinyl’

AMC will be taking an especially close look at delayed-viewing ratings for the “The Walking Dead,” whose midseason premiere Sunday in the middle of a holiday weekend produced below-par same-day numbers — even if it remains television’s gold standard among scripted series in key demos. Over at HBO, meanwhile, it was a quiet start for period music drama “Vinyl” on the same night.

Looking at Nielsen’s “live plus same-day” estimates released this morning, the zombie drama averaged a 6.8 rating in adults 18-49 and 13.7 million viewers overall — down 15% in the demo and 12% in total viewers from last year’s comparable premiere episode (which aired the week before the Presidents Day holiday). Even at this same-day demo level, though, Sunday’s hour of “Dead” out-rates every episode this season of top broadcast scripted series “Empire” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

Following “The Walking Dead,” the season premiere of “Talking Dead” had a very strong showing (3.1 rating in 18-49, 6.44 million viewers overall), outdrawing all eight episodes from last fall.

In addition to the distractions offered up by a three-day weekend, the midseason premiere of “The Walking Dead” also took place on Valentine’s Day. And it had plenty of competition across the dial, including Valentine’s Day specials on both ABC (“The Bachelor”) and NBC (“The Tonight Show”), the NBA All-Star Game on TNT and TBS and the basic-cable premiere of “Frozen” on Disney Channel.

At its peak, “The Walking Dead” may have been able to better withstand such a tough schedule challenge, but there have been indications over the past year that the show may actually be mortal.

“Dead’s” incredible streak of growing its ratings with each half season finally came to an end last year, when the back half of seven five (7.3 rating in adults 18-49, 14.3 million viewers overall) came in below the show’s peak stretch in the fall of 2014 for the first half of its fifth season (7.5 in 18-49, 14.6 million viewers overall). It then dipped further for the fall half of its sixth season, which averaged a 6.7 rating in the demo and 13.3 million total viewers.

On average, last fall’s episodes grew in “live plus-3” by 39% in 18-49 (to 9.3 rating) and by 36% in total viewers (to 18 million). It’s likely it will see even bigger time-shifting with Sunday’s premiere.

That’s what HBO is hoping for with regard to “Vinyl,” whose two-hour premiere Sunday drew just 764,000 viewers. The drama, which stars Bobby Canavale as a New York record executive in the 1970s, came in considerably lower than other HBO drama openers in recent years like “The Leftovers” (1.77 million), “True Detective” (2.33 million) and “The Newsroom” (2.14 million).

Review: ‘Vinyl’

A second airing of “Vinyl” at about 11:30 p.m. added 371,000 viewers.

Elsewhere on Sunday night in cable, the NBA All-Star Game hit a three-year high in viewership as a combined 7.61 million watched the contest on TNT (6.18 million) and TBS (1.43 million) and averaged a combined 3.3 rating in adults 18-49. And at Disney Channel, the network premiere of theatrical blockbuster “Frozen” drew 3.9 million viewers.


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  1. Seun Fayiga says:

    Lol. Its so funny when you say a show is doing bad and the ratings are 6.9 or 7.3 with over 14 million viewers. You can join ten other shows together and not get up to that. I mean thats insane. If u know what it takes to have such ratings and viewership on a weekly basis. Pls just say the show is just the best

  2. Saggy Bottom Beau says:

    Normally when HBO launches a new series, they expand their total viewership through free preview weekends. All of the shows mentioned in the article, aired on expanded viewership weekends. That explains the low numbers for the launch of this new series.

  3. LizReszke says:

    Oh come on. The Walking Dead is the highest rated show on TV, maybe of all time (based off of ratings). 609 was THE BEST episode so far, and ratings do not count for people who recorded the episode on DVR. If you add the people who recorded it or watched it later, I bet the ratings were through the roof. And come on, it was Valentine’s Day, a lot of people were out to dinner and had plans… Of course the ratings would be a little lower. It really seems like the author just wants to see The Walking Dead fail, and news flash… It is not going to, not in the long, foreseeable future.

    • Me says:

      The Walking Dead is nowhere near the highest rated show of all time. Nothing will ever top the TV series that aired when there were only 3 television channels on air. Shows like Dynasty, Dallas, The Cosby Show would have 50-60 million people watching at times. Nothing even compares to that today. Not The Walking Dead. Not Empire. Nothing.


  5. Jacob says:

    Actually Sonja, I believe Steven Universe is by far THE BEST SHOW ON TV.

  6. Sonja says:

    Oh give me a break variety, TWD is the best show on tv stop trying to knock it down.

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