The Walking Dead is taking a bite out of Sunday Night Football as it once again beats the programming in the ratings. For the second time this season the AMC show has done better in the rankings for viewers aged 18 to 49 than football on a Sunday night. So while The Walking Dead scored 14.5 million viewers on Sunday night with a rating of 7.6 in the adult age demographic, Sunday Night Football only achieved a rating of 6.1 for the same age group, although there were about 17 million viewers watching football on Sunday night.
Although the final numbers have not yet been determined as the results of DVR viewings are still being calculated and added in, it seems unlikely that football programming will beat the wildly successful zombies. Sunday Night Football has consistently been the highest rated programming on broadcast television and yet The Walking Dead has managed to reach the core demographic that advertisers strive to reach. Not only is this the second time that ratings for the show have surpassed Sunday Night Football, but it happened last season more than once as well. The first time this season that the show was able to surpass football came during the season five premiere on October 12.
The best way to understand how big the ratings for The Walking Dead are in general is to compare it to other highly successful shows on the air. Comparisons between any show and their ratings always include DVR playbacks as well as the live broadcasts. An accurate representation of DVR showings gives viewers seven days from the initial broadcast in order to watch the program.
Last year in an effort to showcase just how massive the ratings for the show were one publication did a comparison of other shows ratings in contrast with The Walking Dead and every single time zombies won in the demographics that matter to the advertising executives. In fact, The Walking Dead could not find an equal in past seasons of programming until the 2007 to 2008 season of American Idol. Hands down season five of The Walking Dead is able to beat Sunday Night Football as it once again conquers the adults. During season four, the show not only beat football on Sundays but it was also able to conquer three Sundays of the Winter Olympics as well.
Whereas the total viewers watching football on Sunday was overall enough to crush the zombies, it is the ratings in the key demographics that matter. Advertisers want a specific age demographic to be reached and that is what wins television. So while the total viewers watching football was close to three million more than those watching The Walking Dead, it is the adult demographic of 18 to 49 that is giving televisions’ favorite zombie show an edge.
With a 7.6 rating in the 18 to 49 age division The Walking Dead is clearly reaching a target audience that every program on television hopes to win. While these numbers are only the preliminary calculations of viewers and even with the way the numbers are typically adjusted, it seems clear that Sunday Night Football was once again beaten by The Walking Dead in the ratings game. The ratings for the AMC show continue to prove that Sunday night is now zombie night.
By Kimberley Spinney
Photo by Gage Skidmore – Flickr License