As in past fall finales, last night’s The Walking Dead saw the death of a major character and the survivors confronting some of their worst fears. The Season 5 midseason ender also saw the AMC zombie apocalypse not only break its own records but tackle Sunday Night Football for the fifth time this season. In a season that has seen the show based on the Robert Kirkman co-created comic series smash through one record after another, last night’s WD was watched by 14.8 million, with 9.6 million among adults 18-49.
That’s a strong double-digit rise of 23% and 24% from the 12.1 million total viewers and 7.7 million in the key demo who tuned in for the Season 4 midseason finale last December 1. That episode was WD’s previous midseason record holder. The all-time record holder the AMC series is the Season 5 premiere of October 12 that drew 17.3 million total viewers and 11 million adults 18-49.
Compared with last week’s episode, The Walking Dead was up 8% among the key demo. Season-to-season, the first half of the current fifth season has risen 13% among the 18-49s vs. the first half of S4 and 13% among total viewers with 9.5 million in the demo and 14.6 million viewers overall.
Having beaten the NFL head-to-head twice last season, the S5 debut of WD topped NBC’s usually dominant SNF. The AMC drama went on to take SNF down another three weeks in a row only to be stopped last week with the Dallas Cowboys’ closer-than-close 31-28 victory over the New York Giants. That game ended up getting an 8.1 result among the key demo to WD’s 7.0. Last night’s midseason finale flipped that result: Walking Dead posted a 7.6 rating last night to SNF‘s 6.3 in fast nationals. Among the 18-49s, the Denver Broncos’ win over the Kansas City Chiefs was watched by about 8 million viewers — more than 1.5 million fewer than The Walking Dead. Even with an adjustment in final nationals, which saw last week’s SNF go from 7.1 to 8.1, it is unlikely that the NFL is going to beat back the zombies.
After eight weeks, this was the last time this season that the AMC series and SNF will be going head-to-head. The Walking Dead returns on February 8 for the second half of Season 5, a week after Super Bowl XLIX.