SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of the March 20 episode of The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead commonly sees an uptick in sorrow and in the ratings as it moves toward the end of a season, and this year has proven no different. Coming off a season low last week, the AMC blockbuster saw a supporting character casualty on the third-to-last episode of its sixth season on Sunday and a small rise in total viewers and adults 18-49. Add to that the fact that lead-out Talking Dead ended up topping Fox’s two-hour The Passion extravaganza in the demo and you have one happy cabler.
With the death by archery of Merritt Weaver’s Dr. Denise Cloyd near the end of “Twice As Far” and the much anticipated arrival of villain Negan seemingly closer, TWD had 12.7 million total viewers and 7.7 million 18-49s for a 6.04 rating. While down a touch in both viewers and demo from its March 6 “Not Tomorrow Yet” episode, the March 20 Alrick Riley-directed show was up 1.3% in the demo and the same percentage in viewers from it Season 6 low on March 13. That, as is usually the case, makes TWD the highest-rated show on all of TV on Sunday among 18-49s.
Like most of this season, the third to last show of this cycle dipped from its comparable episode of Season 5. This week’s TWD was down 8% in total viewers and 14% in the demo from its March 15, 2015 “Spend” episode.
Displaying again the muscle of the zombie apocalypse, TWD lead-out Talking Dead proved a bigger draw on Sunday night than the Fox’s big-ticket Tyler Perry-led The Passion. Now, the 8-10 PM The Passion won in total viewers with 6.65 million, compared to the Chris Hardwick-hosted show’s 5.3 million, which was up 4% from last week. However, among adults 18-49, it was the 10 PM TD that took the prize with a 2.4 rating compared to The Passion‘s 1.6. In fact, besides some NCAA Tournament spillover, the only thing on primetime on the Big 4 on Sunday to surpass the Talking Dead‘s demo numbers was NBC’s Little Big Shots, which had a 2.6 rating in its second week. Week-to-week, TD rose 4% among the 18-49s from its March 13 show.
The Walking Dead wraps Season 6 on April 3 with what is expected to be a longer than usual episode directed by executive producer Greg Nicotero, with the expected first appearance of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan.