AMC’s The Walking Dead has a big presence at both San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic-Con every year. This year was no different at NYCC, perhaps especially because the convention corresponded with the show’s premiere weekend. At this year’s panel, fans were treated to a thorough discussion of season 5 with much of the show’s main cast and producers.
The Walking Dead is a powerhouse in terms of fanbase, which has been reflected in the show’s ratings that have continually grown over the series’ four seasons. Now, the premiere of The Walking Dead season 5 — read our review of ‘No Sanctuary’ — has hit a new all-time high in the ratings.
Variety is reporting that 17.3 million viewers tuned in to The Walking Dead season 5 premiere on Sunday night, setting a new series record. The season 4 premiere debuted to 16.11 viewers — more than a million less. In the 18-49 demographic, The Walking Dead scored an 8.7 rating (which roughly translates to 11 million viewers), besting the series’ previous best rating of 8.2.
The show’s premiere ratings place The Walking Dead in competition with CBS heavy hitters like The Big Bang Theory and NCIS. The Walking Dead has also seen a major upswing from season to season; the show’s second season debuted with a 3.8 rating and 7.2 million viewers, the season 3 premiere received a 5.8 rating and 10.87 million viewers, while season 4’s debut hit a 8.2 rating with 16.11 million viewers.
These ratings reflect the recent confidence AMC has shown in The Walking Dead: the network had already renewed the series for a sixth season before Sunday’s premiere in addition to greenlighting a spinoff series earlier last month. Viewers, on the other hand, haven’t always shown the same confidence in the series, which has hit many low points in terms of the story’s momentum.
However, the second half of season 4 and the premiere of season 5 have set an altogether different tone of the show that has largely entertained fans and critics of The Walking Dead alike. If the series can continue to provide the compelling and well-paced stories seen in most recent episodes, The Walking Dead may continue to break ratings records.
The Walking Dead continues next Sunday with ‘Strangers’ @9pm ET on AMC.