AMC’s ‘Walking Dead’ Scores Best-Ever Finale Ratings, Beats Football in Demo

AMC’s “The Walking Dead” wrapped the first half of its fifth season Sunday with more gaudy ratings — and again beat NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” in young adults — though it fell short of a series record.

According to Nielsen estimates, “Walking Dead” averaged a 7.6 rating in adults 18-49 and 14.8 million viewers overall — the show’s best-ever finale ratings. It was up 9% in 18-49 (7.6 vs. 7.0) and 11% in total viewers (14.8 million vs. 13.33 million) from the previous week (7.0 in 18-49).

And compared with its fall finale of last year, Sunday’s episode grew by 25% in 18-49 (7.6 vs. 6.1) and by 23% in total viewers (14.8 million vs. 12.05 million).

The show’s series high remains its fifth-season premiere in October (8.7 rating in 18-49, 17.29 million viewers overall).

The Walking Dead” once again beat NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” in adults 18-49 (roughly 7.6 to 7.0), marking the fifth time in eight tries it has accomplished this feat. “Walking Dead” currently ranks ahead of “SNF” as the fall’s No. 1 series in adults 18-49, and towers over the football package when seven-day DVR playback is included.

Since averaging a 2.7 same-night 18-49 rating with its first batch of episodes in the fall of 2010, “Walking Dead” has increased its ratings with every half season. It built to a 3.4 rating in the fall of 2011, to a 3.9 in the spring of 2012, to a 5.3 in the fall of 2012, to a 5.8 in the spring of 2013, to a 6.6 in the fall of 2013, to a 6.9 in the spring of 2014, and now a 7.5 this fall.

“Walking Dead” has seen the same trajectory in total viewers, with each half-season growing following its 5.23 million average in 2010: 6.45 million, 7.45 million, 10.08 million, 11.41 million, 12.98 million, 13.68 million and 14.6 million.

And these “live plus same-day” gains came despite increased DVR usage with each year.

Following “Walking Dead” on Sunday, discussion show “Talking Dead” averaged a 3.3 rating in adults 18-49 and 6.6 million viewers overall — its best scores yet for a mid-season finale.

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