There was an attack on the AMC blockbuster series Sunday night, literally and figuratively. While we’ll leave the plot turn of Week 2 of the sixth season of The Walking Dead at that, the zombie apocalypse was bitten in the ratings by a surging Sunday Night Football and a record-breaking Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.
Sunday’s “JSS” episode of Walking Dead drew 12.2 million total viewers with 7.8 million among adults 18-49 for a 6.2 rating, according to Nielsen. That’s a 16% drop among viewers and a 17% decline in the demo from the Season 6 debut on October 11. While down from the Season 5 opener, the S6 premiere did beat a wilting SNF among the key demo. Looking at the final numbers for the New England Patriots’ 34-27 win over the rival Indianapolis Colts, it’s clear there wouldn’t be a repeat performance this week: After a surging 7.5 in fast nationals, that saw NBC and NFL game up 21% in the demo over TWD on October 18, SNF rose to an 8.2 rating. That final rating is up 32% over TWD and up 39% in the 9 PM hour.
Compared to last year’s TWD Week 2, this year’s was down 19% in total viewers and 20% in the demo. That’s just a touch more than the show fell from Week 1 to Week 2 in Season 5 and in Season 4 – and there’s further competition to consider as well.
While the series based on Robert Kirkman’s comics faced a strong SNF with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on October 19 last year, it did not face a highly watched baseball playoff game too, as it did this year. Airing on TBS on Sunday night, the top-market New York Mets’ 4-1 victory over the No. 3 market Chicago Cubs in their second matchup of the NLCS was a Game 2 record for the channel with 6.6 million viewers and a 4.1 household rating.
Now AMC doesn’t talk Live+Same Day numbers much anymore, unless there’s a record or two being broken. However, this week’s Live+3 may give us a clearer sense of how TWD is really being watched against the sports competition. Last week saw lifts of 33% and 36% in total audience and 18-49 demo, respectively, for TWD in L+3. The all-time delayed viewing record for TWD was the second episode of the second part of the fifth season, which saw a 42% jump for total viewership of the February 15’s L+SD numbers and 45% in the key demo. Despite this most recent slide, with its massive and historically loyal fan base very much intact, this week’s TWD could see rises close to those numbers when AMC puts out latest L+3 figures later this week.