There were a number of goodbyes uttered Sunday night as the XXIII Winter Games came to an end, as did the life of Carl Grimes on The Walking Dead. However, unlike the near lows of NBC’s Closing Ceremony in PyeongChang, the AMC zombie apocalypse series based on Robert Kirkman’s comics has some celebrating to do.
With a 3.6 rating among adults 18-49, the often-heartbreaking winter return episode of TWD’s eighth season topped the fireworks and K-Pop extravaganza of the Olympics closer by 20% in the key demo. That is a 20% victory overall against the Closing Ceremony, which aired tape-delayed from 8-10:31 PM ET, and it’s a 20% victory over the Olympics in the 9-10:30 PM ET slot where the TWD winter return went head-to-head with the NBC broadcast.
Adding to the victory is the fact that this is the second time in a row that TWD has taken the gold over the Closing Ceremony of a Winter Olympics. In late February 2014, the Season 4 winter return of Dead also buried the Closing Ceremony of the Sochi Games.
In a season that not only has seen the loss of the Chandler Riggs-portrayed core character but ratings as well, the still-blockbuster TWD also snagged an uptick of 8% in 18-49s over its “How It’s Gotta Be” winter finale of December 10.
Overall, the February 25 “Honor” episode of TWD delivered 8.3 million viewers, with 4.7 million in the 18-49 demo and 5.2 million in the 25-54 demo. For comparison, the XXIII Winter Games Closing Ceremony pulled in 14.8 million viewers on NBC overall.
Having said that, the ninth episode of Dead’s eighth season was down 37% from the Season 7 winter return on February 12, 2017, which was up against the Grammys. That’s a hard drop in a Season 8 of several ratings hits and lows from once-record-breaking heights for TWD.
In fact, this year’s winter return looks to be a low of its own for the series; this past Sunday dipped just below the Season 2 winter return results of February 12, 2012, which had 8.1 million total viewers with 5.4 million in the 18-49 demo.
Still, with TWD already renewed for a ninth season, and perhaps with a few more pickups for AMC’s biggest show, we could see this battle again in 2022 when the Winter Olympics take place in Beijing – who will be taking a bite out of whom then?