Few spinoffs — or “companion series,” as AMC likes to call it — have been as anticipated as Fear The Walking Dead. Well, anticipation of the new show’s August 23 9 PM debut translated into 10.1 million viewers, with 6.3 million among adults 18-49 for a 4.9 rating. Proving the power of the brand, the viewership and demo results are the new highs for any premiere in cable history, according to Nielsen.
Apples to apples is hard here, but compared to the premiere of the mothership The Walking Dead, which had 5.35 million total viewers and a strong 2.7/7 demo rating for its October 31, 2010, launch, FearTWD already is a big hit. Of course, 2010 is a whole other era in terms of TV viewing patterns and in terms of the now-blockbuster TWD. The record-breaking Season 5 opener of TWD on October 12 last year had 17.3 million total viewers and 11 million among the 18-49s for an 8.7 rating. The Season 5 finale drew 15.8 million viewers on March 29 with 10.4 million in the demo, resulting in an 8.2 rating. Both shows are EP’d by Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero and David Alpert, with Dave Erickson serving as showrunner for FearTWD.
The 90-minute FearTWD premiere faced off against the second hour of the Tennessee Titans-St. Louis Rams NFL preseason game on Fox on Sunday night. Just as TWD beat Sunday Night Football five times last year, FearTWD topped the NFL in its debut.
Looking at the Live+Same Day results of some other recent big AMC debuts, FearTWD was well up from the 6.9 million total viewers and 4.4 million among the demo that the February 8 premiere of Better Call Saul had. With a 3.4 rating, that demo result was the best cable series premiere ever until FearTWD. It should be mentioned that Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad prequel of sorts, had the mideason return of TWD as its sweet lead-in – and that debut had 15.6 total million viewers and 10.13 million among the 18-49s. The June 28 premiere of Humans pulled in 1.73 million viewers for AMC, with a 0.5 adults 18-49 rating. Although it put out the FearTWD numbers today, AMC undoubtedly is betting on even more records falling with the Live+3 numbers later this week.
Taking place in Los Angeles at the very beginning of the zombie apocalypse, FearTWD’s first season will run six episodes until October 4. The sixth season of The Walking Dead starts the following week. The 15-episode Season 2 of FearTWD is set to begin in 2016.