The Olympics are more or less seen as a ratings juggernaut for the network that airs them, but as the Sochi Winter Games played out their second day of competition, they proved no match for another ratings juggernaut: the return of AMC’s The Walking Dead. The second half of the zombie apocalypse series’ fourth season got underway last night, and many Americans decided they it liked seeing the dead walk, slightly more than seeing its athlete’s compete on the world stage.
According to Deadline, the first new episode of Walking Dead since December garnered 15.8 million viewers and 10.4 million in the key 18-49 demo. The Winter Olympics on NBC, by comparison, got more total viewers with 26.2 million, but it had over a million fewer viewers in that key demo, which is the most important number to advertisers in terms of purchasing power. Analysts expect though that once DVR numbers for Dead come into play, the total number of viewers for the AMC show should cross 20 million.
It’s also worth noting that the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead out did the numbers for its mid-season finale, which drew a more meager 12.1 million viewers and 7.7 million in the demo. However, the fourth season premiere of the show still sports the season’s best ratings with 16.1 million viewers and 10.4 million, a cable record. Interestingly, the ratings for the post-Dead discussion show The Talking Dead reached an all-time high.
That’s some really good news for AMC since their weekend got off to a bumpy start when Sunday’s episode leaked to Xbox users through the Xbox Video service Saturday morning. The mistake was caught, and the episode was taken down, and despite being one of the most pirated shows online, The Walking Dead remains a ratings force of nature that even America’s second favorite type of Olympic Games can’t stop.
Read our own Regina Lizik’s recap of last night’s episode here.