Even with a much-awaited reunion with a character from seasons past and much more, one of the best things from last night’s Season 5 finale of the AMC zombie apocalypse series The Walking Dead had to be the “Oh sunshine, you don’t get both” line from Melissa McBride’s Carol to Andrew Lincoln’s Rick. Well, when it comes to ratings, Sunday’s 90-minute season ender did in fact get both, with total viewership and adults 18-49 results hitting finale records. The Walking Dead drew 15.8 million viewers last night, with 10.4 million in the key demo.
At the end of what’s been a record-breaking season for the blockbuster show, that’s up by a nose from the 15.7 million total viewers who watched the Season 4 finale on March 30 last year, the previous finale viewership record holder. The Season 4 ender also took the previous season ender demo top spot with 10.2 million watching, good for a 8.0 rating. With an 8.2 rating, Sunday’s episode is up 2% among the demo from the last finale.
The all-time high for the series based on the Robert Kirkman-created comics was the Season 4 premiere on October 13, 2013. That was shattered however with the Season 5 debut on October 12, which had a staggering 17.3 million total viewers with 11 million among adults 18-49 — and then it saw double-digit rises in Live+3 DVR numbers. Overall, Season 5 was up 9% among adults 18-49 over Season 4.
While no record, the 15.6 million total viewers and 10.129 million in the demo that the Season 5 midseason return of February 8 pulled in was steady with Season 4 return on February 9 last year. That episode drew 15.8 million total viewers and 10.4 million among 18-49s. That was up from the 14.8 million viewers and 9.6 million in the demo that watched the Season 5 midseason finale at the end of last November.
As a Big 4 comparison, while Fox’s freshman blockbuster Empire had 16.7 million total viewers and a 6.5 rating among the demo in Live+Same Day results for its 2-hour March 18 finale, it could not take down the Dead ender as the top rated non-sports or awards show on all of TV. (With any direct comparison between the two big shows, it is important to remember that Fox is in 116 million homes nationwide while AMC is in about 95 million, about 81% of the coverage.)
It was a good night with a new high for after show Talking Dead with 7.5 million viewers and 4.9 million among the demo. Season 6 of The Walking Dead is expected to start in October of this year.