“The Walking Dead” Topped Football’s Ratings This Past Weekend

AMC’s “The Walking Dead” dropped off from its premiere but remained the week’s top-rated series in key demos, according to Nielsen’s “live plus-3” estimates released Friday. NBC’s “Blindspot” and ABC’s “Quantico,” meanwhile, were still the top-rated new series by this metric, which includes viewing done via VOD and DVR playback within three days of a telecast.

“Dead” averaged an 8.7 rating in adults 18-49, down a fairly typical 14% from its premiere, to best Fox’s “Empire” (6.6), CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” (5.5) and ABC’s “Modern Family” (4.2). The zombie drama saw a slightly larger percentage gain in delayed viewing this week (up 41% from its same-day rating) due to intense sports competition from both football and postseason baseball.

CBS veterans “The Big Bang Theory” (19.03 million) and “NCIS” (18.80 million) were the two most-watched scripted programs for the week of Oct. 12-18. They were followed by “The Walking Dead” (17.08 million), “Empire” (16.33 million) and CBS’ “NCIS: New Orleans” (14.77 million).

Though live football games don’t hold up as well in delayed-viewing rankings as dramas and comedies, all three of the primetime NFL packages stood among the week’s top six programs in Live+3 18-49. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” featuring the much-anticipated AFC Championship rematch between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, placed second to “Walking Dead” with an 8.3 demo rating and ranked No. 1 among all primetime programs in total viewers with nearly 23 million.

(Including all dayparts, the most-watched program of the week — with 25.07 million total viewers — was CBS’ national doubleheader game featuring primarily the San Diego Chargers against the Green Bay Packers.)

Looking at L+3 ratings for the season’s top new shows, NBC’s “Blindspot” continued its gradual decline, but its 3.8 rating in 18-49 and 12.58 million viewers overall made it the week’s No. 1 rookie. ABC’s “Quantico” was the week’s No. 2 first-year show in 18-49 with a 2.9 rating (down 0.2 from last week), ranking No. 8 among all dramas in 18-49 and No. 6 among broadcast dramas.

CBS’ “Limitless” and “Life in Pieces” were both down 0.2 from the previous week to a 2.3, with the latter standing as the fall’s No. 1 new comedy in the demo as well as total viewers. Fox’s top newcomers in 18-49 were outside the top 50 for the week: “Rosewood” (1.7), “Scream Queens (1.5) and “Grandfatherd” (1.25).

ABC’s “The Muppets” continued to search for its bottom, with last week’s 1.8 rating down 18% from the previous week (2.2) and less than half the show’s strong premiere rating (3.8). Similarly in total viewers, last week’s 5.52 million was less than half the premiere’s 11.06 million. The network’s Sunday soap “Blood & Oil” remains a modest performer but it was able to maintain the previous week’s 1.3 rating in Live+3.

After “Blindspot,” NBC’s top-rated newcomer was Thursday’s “Heroes Reborn” (2.0 in 18-49)

Relative to their same-day 18-49 averages, the primetime shows spiking the most in L+3 during the week of Oct. 12-18 were AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (2.5 points), Fox’s “Empire (1.9), FX’s “American Horror Story: Hotel” (1.7), CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” (1.6) and ABC’s “Modern Family” (1.5). NBC’s “Blindspot” and ABC’s “Quantico” saw the biggest lifts among first-year series (both 1.3).

On a percentage basis, three shows rose 80% or more from same-day to L+3: NBC’s “The Blacklist” (+89%), ABC’s “Quantico” (83%) and FX’s “American Horror Story” (81%).

After “The Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story,” the top-rated scripted cable series in 18-49 rating were Comedy Central’s “South Park” (1.49), OWN’s “If Loving You Is Wrong” (0.86) and the season premiere of FX’s “Fargo” (0.85), which shot up by 77% from its same-day rating.

Looking at the premium cable series on Sunday, Showtime’s “Homeland” (1.93 million) lost a little more steam in its third week, while the net’s “The Affair” (1.19 million) and HBO’s “The Leftovers” (1.20 million) were both on the rise and at near-premiere levels of two weeks earlier.

Among unscripted cable series, the leaders in 18-49 were AMC’s “Talking Dead” (2.5), VH1’s “Love and Hip-Hop Hollywood” (1.91), Discovery’s “Gold Rush” (1.68), VH1’s “Black Ink Crew” (1.41) and Bravo’s “Real Housewives of O.C.” (1.39).

Kicking off its sixth season on Friday, “Gold Rush” led all of television for the night in men 25-54 (even beating baseball) and was also the week’s most-watched unscripted cable program with 5.04 million total viewers, up 7% from last year’s opener (4.72 million). Combined with the season premiere of “Gold Rush” pre-show “The Dirt,” Discovery was the No. 1 cable network for the night in all 18-49, 25-54 and 18-34 demos as well as total viewers.


Adults 18-49 rating
1.  The Walking Dead (AMC), 8.73
2.  Sunday Night Football: New England-Indianapolis (NBC), 8.26
3.  Empire (Fox), 6.62
4.  The Big Bang Theory (CBS), 5.48
5.  Thursday Night Football (CBS/NFLN), 4.90
6.  Monday Night Football: Pittsburgh-New England (ESPN), 4.50
7.  Modern Family (ABC), 4.21
8.  The Voice-Monday (NBC), 3.94
9.  American Horror Story: Hotel (FX), 3.89
10.  Blindspot (NBC), 3.83
11.  Scandal (ABC), 3.81
12.  Nevada Democratic Debate (CNN), 3.75
13.  Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), 3.52
14.  How to Get Away With Murder (ABC), 3.37
15.  The Voice-Tuesday (NBC), 3.31
16.  Quantico (ABC), 2.93
17.  Survivor (CBS), 2.79
18.  The Goldbergs (ABC), 2.71
19.  NCIS (CBS), 2.69
20.  Chicago Fire (NBC), 2.68
21.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 2.63
22.  The Blacklist (NBC), 2.62
23.  Black-ish (ABC), 2.61
24.  Scorpion (CBS), 2.53
25.  The Middle (ABC), 2.51

Got the drop on Variety . . .

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