There was a distinctly disturbing hookup on Sunday’s midseason return of The Walking Dead and a poignant cameo on the long-overdue season premiere of Better Call Saul. All of which saw AMC’s two heaviest hitters back with improved ratings from their last outings.
Now, with a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49 and 3.5 million viewers, the beginning of the second part of TWD’s 10th season is actually the lowest midseason return the zombie apocalypse series has seen. Down 40% in the key demo from the previous midseason low of the Grammys-battling February 10 2019 Season 9 return, the show based on Robert Kirkman’s now-concluded comics was caught in a dangerous cave, literally and figuratively.
Still, even with a 31% slide in total viewers, TWD’s Season 10 return was up 9% over its November 24, 2019 fall finale in total audience and 17% among 18-49s. Overall, it was the best performance for the now Norman Reedus-led series since its Season 10 premiere on the long ago days of October 6 last year.
If you want to talk a long time ago, that would be the last time we saw a season premiere of Better Call Saul.
After an 18-month absence and a certain El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie on Netflix, the delightful Bob Odenkirk spinoff of the meth-fueled mothershow also returned Sunday night. In what was the first of a two-night premiere and with a short appearance by the late and great Robert Forster, Better Call Saul’s Season 5 opener snagged 1.6 million viewers and a 0.49 rating in adults 18-49.
That’s the lowest for any BCS premiere, both in audience and the key demo. However, even with the 18% drop from the Season 4 debut, there’s some mitigating circumstances to factor in.
One, the Season 4 Better Call Saul was back on August 6, 2018 – virtually another era in TV. Secondly, with the TWD lead-in on February 23, BCS was steady with its Season 4 finale of October 8, 2018 in viewers and up 10% in the demo. Thirdly, and this is of course increasingly true of TWD too, Better Call Saul has a great digital afterlife with delayed viewership often jumping in the high double digits.
That’s the small screen in 2020, deal with it.
TWD remains the top show on ad-supported cable, fact. And if you didn’t see that intimate exchange on the show, let me make some broad strokes – Negan. Alpha.