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It's a Zombie Jamboree at AMC, with 'Walking Dead' Registering Monster Ratings Numbers
October 18, 2011  | By David Bianculli

TVWW managing editor Diane Werts has beaten me to the punch on this one, reporting on the amazing audience estimates for Sunday's Season 2 premiere of AMC's The Walking Dead in her For Better or Werts column HERE. But those numbers, like the show, bears repeating. They really are shocking -- and multiplying about as quickly as a zombie epidemic...

The second-season premiere episode alone, televised in its regular Sunday night time slot in expanded 90-minute form, drew 7.3 million overall, which is 2 million more than the figure for the Season 1 premiere -- which, on its own, outdid any telecast of AMC's more established and acclaimed series, Mad Men and Breaking Bad.


Take the mammoth-for-cable numbers of the Season 2 premiere, and add in the network's same-night repeats, at 10:30 a.m. and again at 12:30 a.m. -- and then stand back and marvel. When you do that, the overall same-night audience for The Walking Dead, in its second-season launch, is a cumulative 11 million viewers.

In the Nielsen ratings for the week ending Oct. 9, which also tallies live plus same-day viewing into its numbers, that would have put AMC's The Walking Dead right above CBS's Survivor: South Pacific, which drew 10.7 million viewers, and one notch below the same network's Hawaii Five-0, which had just over 11 million viewers and was ranked 23d for the week.

In other words, the overall audience for Walking Dead nearly qualifies it as a Top 20 show -- competing directly against series on broadcast TV. But look at the demos, and it's even more astounding.

Looking solely at the 7.3 million watching the show's time-period Season 2 premiere, 4.8 million of those were in the highly valued demographic category of ages 18-49.

How good is that? This good:

For the week ending Oct. 9, on all of broadcast TV, only four shows scored higher in that demo. Two of those shows were devoted to NBC's Sunday football coverage (the game had 8.9 million viewers in that category, the pregame show 6.2 million) , and the other two were sitcoms. CBS's Two and a Half Men drew 6.2 million in the 18-49 demo, and ABC's Modern Family drew 5.7.

And then came The Walking Dead, at 4.8.

Over at AMC, it's definitely time to throw a Zombie Jamboree. And given the way the Season 2 opener ended, I expect every one of those millions of viewers to return, eagerly, for episode two.

Oh, and by the way: I've seen episode two, and it's even better...




Jonathan Maberry said:

THE WALKING DEAD is television at its best, and it's also proof of what I've been saying for years: the best zombie stories aren't about zombies. They're about the human experience during a shared crisis, and TWD brings us a group of very human, very flawed, totally fascinating characters. Kudos to Bob Kirkman (upon whose comic this is based) and the whole TWD team.

Jonathan Maberry
author of DEAD OF NIGHT (St. Martins Griffin, Oct 25) and DUST & DECAY (Simon & Schuster)

[Glad to reprint your plug, Jonathan. And good to have you here. -- DB]

Comment posted on October 18, 2011 11:12 AM

John said:

Smashing opener for "Walking Dead" season two.

One tiny complaint: a Southern Baptist church in rural Georgia might have digital bells on a timer, but it probably would not have a bleeding Jesus on a cross. That's Roman Catholic territory. Most Protestants prefer an empty cross as a symbol of Christ's victory over death.

Still, an effective scene.

[Christ, that's a good catch. So to speak. - DB]

Comment posted on October 18, 2011 6:22 PM

Casey Chapple said:

John was sharp to catch the Catholic reference, and David's response was funny. I'm depressed, though, by these Christian signals which give this series away as an allegory which will end predictably. I think life's much more interesting and challenging without the comforts and easy answers supplied by religion. The characters, for instance, are now easily pegged on one side or the other, or on their way, in this newly boring, dualistic world.

Why it took until season two to reveal the propagandistic nature of this program is the only remaining mystery. I became suspicious in season one when it was clear none of the women were gonna kick zombie butt. Lip service is given to the empowerment of women, but I doubt they will actually lead the boys out on search and destroy missions. Better to be home washing up the bandages. This is retro, but not stylishly so.

Since born-agains are commanded to spread the word or risk a bumpy ride to heaven, they do so. Most are upfront about it. But some feel a need to sneak up on us. I think that's what's happening here. Overtly Christian dramas last only a couple seasons at most, so the setup here is irreligious and intoxicating. We are bitten and doomed to watch.

It's funny - the more I think about it, the more this show can be seen as a metaphor for the need of the Christians to convert. Perhaps I can continue to enjoy it on THAT plane - since surely the zombies will lose in the end.

Comment posted on October 23, 2011 5:38 PM
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