The walkers claimed another one of the survivors last night on the midseason return of the AMC zombie apocalypse blockbuster and the spinoff of that sleazeball lawyer from Breaking Bad premiered with some bite too with the biggest series demo debut in cable history. Coming so soon after the death of Beth Greene in the midseason finale of November 30 last year, it was harsh blow for Rick Grimes and the rest of the gang on The Walking Dead. A great loss in terms of narrative, that is. In terms of ratings, last night saw another big result for the series based on the Robert Kirkman created comics, though it was just short of a high. Sunday’s Walking Dead was watched by 15.6 total million viewers and 10.129 million among adults 18-49. That demo result is just 539,000 behind what the special post Super Bowl episode of NBC’s The Blacklist pulled in on February 1.
In an episode that saw the remaining survivors heading to Virginia as well as plethora of past dead characters like the Governor and Beth herself return in a hallucinogenic scene, last night’s WD was steady with the 15.8 million total viewers and 10.4 million in the demo that the Season 4 return drew on February 9 last year. Last year’s midseason return didn’t face the Grammys like last night but it did take on NBC’s coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympics. The Walking Dead beat the Games among adults 18-49 that night. It was not a repeat performance against the Grammys. The Walking Dead had a 8.0 rating among the demo while CBS’ broadcast of the music awards show got an 8.5.
Last night’s Greg Nicotero directed “What Happened and What’s Going On” was up from the 14.8 million viewers and 9.6 million in the demo that watched the midseason finale at the end of last November. Those results are the midseason finale records for The Walking Dead. The all-time high for the AMC series remains the Season 5 premiere of October 12 last year. That episode had a non-sports cable smashing 17.3 million total viewers and 11 million among adults 18-49.
With the juggernaut of The Walking Dead as a lead-in and The Talking Dead pushed back to 11 PM for a week, the first night of the 2-night Better Call Saul premiere pulled in a very strong 6.9 million total viewers and record breaking 4.4 million among the key demo at 10 PM. While a 57% demo drop off from its lead-in, the Breaking Bad spinoff scored the top demo result for a series premiere in cable history as BCS took out previous top spot holder Deadwood. The HBO series had 3.7 million viewers among the 18-49s when it debuted on March 21, 2004. The new AMC show is just behind the al time cable series debut record of 7.03 million total viewers that the June 13, 2005 debut of The Closer had. Obviously BCS is up from the last premiere to follow The Walking Dead. The 10 PM debut of Hell On Wheels snagged 4.36 million total viewers and 2.395 million among the 18-49s on February 6, 2011.
Sunday’s Better Call Saul also had a far better result for the Breaking Bad prequel of a sorts than Breaking Bad itself did in the long long ago days of 2008 when it debuted. Airing on January 20, 2008, the first episode of Breaking Bad drew 1.4 million total viewers. Of course that was long before that other Vince Gilligan created series became a powerhouse of its own. The premiere of the fifth and final season of BB on July 15, 2012 had 2.93 million viewers. The midseason return of the split final season had 5.92 million viewers on August 11, 2013 and the finale of the Emmy wining series was watched by a series high audience of 10.28 million.
Part two of the Better Call Saul premiere airs tonight at 10 PM in what will become the show’s regular slot.