There was no new cable record for The Walking Dead spinoff in its second week, but there was a potentially telling victory. While its 8.2 million total viewers and 4.1 rating last night was down -18% in total viewers and -16% in adults 18-49 from its record-shattering August 23 debut that garnered 10.1 million viewers and a 4.9 rating, the second episode easily tackled the NFL and NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Last season, the usually unbeatable SNF was beaten in the key demo five of the eight times it went head to head with The Walking Dead.
Now granted, the 9 PM Fear The Walking Dead was facing a preseason game, but its demo number was 105% better compared with the 2.0 rating the Arizona Cardinals’ win over the Oakland Raiders drew on NBC from 8-11 PM in fast nationals. While those numbers will of course be adjusted later, it should be noted that even though the 9-10 PM hour of SNF saw part of halftime and the start of the third quarter, the rating actually was a 2.2 average — or 46% less than FearTWD. The new show also sacked preseason football on Fox (1.7 rating) last Sunday, so some seeds may be laid for the last four episodes of its first season when FearTWD faces regular-season games.
On a night that also featured the much-hyped MTV VMAs, SNF on NBC had a total audience of 6.45 million in fast nationals results from 8-11 PM. Between 9-10 PM, the NFL game had 6.870 million viewers. To add one more layer of comparison, the looking-for-controversy-before-every-commercial-break VMAs had a viewership of 9.8 million across 10 Viacom nets.
Compared to the second episode of TWD on November 7, 2010, FearTWD had a greater percentage drop in both categories. With 4.707 million viewers and a 2.5 rating among the 18-49s for its second episode, TWD declined just 11% in total viewers and 7% in the demo.
The spinoff takes next week off for the Labor Day weekend and returns for its third episode September 13. That’s the same night that SNF formally begins its 2014-15 season with a face-off between big market teams the New York Giants vs. the Dallas Cowboys. Zombies vs. Cowboys – someone’s getting bitten there.