All good things must come to an end, and for The Walking Dead that happened last night. After beating NBC’s Sunday Night Football three weeks in a row and four times this season, the AMC zombie-apocalypse series came up just a little short. Walking Dead got a 7.0 among adults 18-49, while the Dallas Cowboys’ incredibly dramatic 31-28 nail-biter win over the New York Giants had a 7.1 in fast nationals – a number that likely will rise.
Even with two major-market teams crashing against each other on the field, there probably was another reason the blockbuster series stumbled last night. That was the increased competition of the American Music Awards on ABC, even though that was down 15% from last year in the demo.
Last week, the zombie drama based on comic co-created by Robert Kirkman drew a 7.3 result among the key demo to SNF’s 6.2 fast nationals rating, the latter went up to a 7.1 in the final numbers. Last night saw SNF get 9.04 million viewers in the key demo from 8:30-11 PM ET to WD’s 8.86 million. Looking just at the 9 PM slot, SNF had 9.36 million viewers among 18-49s. Total viewers to total viewers, the AMC series had 13.33 million last night to the NBC and NFL game’s 19.77 million.
Of course, we could see another reversal of fortune this coming Sunday. Last night was the penultimate Walking Dead episode before the show breaks for its Season 5 winter hiatus. SNF is scheduled to have a pair of second-tier-market teams, the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs, face off on November 30. Even if that game is as dramatic as last night’s and with no AMAs to dilute the demo, it’s going to be a struggle against the relentless walkers and potential cast demise, if past WD winter finales are any indication. Also, to add more context, the S4 WD winter finale pulled in 7.7 million viewers in the demo on December 1, 2013 with a total viewership of 12.1 million. That was a midseason finale record for the show – a series that has shattered nearly as many ratings records as zombies’ skulls.
So you might want to start making your bets now as next Sunday will be the last time WD and SNF go head-to-head this season. The AMC series returns on February 8 for the second half of Season 5, a week after Super Bowl XLIX.