The much-anticipated arrival of villain Negan helped boost ratings for AMC’s season finale of “The Walking Dead” on Sunday, though the zombie drama couldn’t match the level of last year’s record-setting closer.
Sunday’s finale, whose closing minutes generated a decidely negative reaction on Twitter, drew an average audience of 14.2 million people, according to Nielsen, an increase of nearly 2 million viewers week to week and the show’s largest audience since its sixth-season finale last October (14.6 million). In the key demo of adults 18-49, Sunday’s 6.9 rating was up 19% from the previous week (5.8) and is the highest since the midseason finale last November (7.0).
Compared with last season’s finale, though, Sunday’s ratings were down about 10% in total viewers (14.2 million vs. 15.78 million) and 15% in 18-49 (6.9 vs. 8.2).
Despite minor ratings slippage in season six, “The Walking Dead” remains television’s top-rated entertainment series in adults 18-49. In “live plus-3” estimates heading into the finale, its 2015-16 season average of a 9.0 rating in adults 18-49 puts it well ahead of top broadcast series “Empire” on Fox (6.8) and “The Big Bang Theory” on CBS (5.6).
In total viewers, the 3-day average for “Walking Dead” (17.9 million) ranks third among entertainment series, behind only “The Big Bang Theory” (20 million) and “NCIS” (19.8 million).