While broadcast and cable networks may often play fast and loose with definitions when it comes to naming television’s highest-rated series, there’s no denying in terms of shear viewership power in all the ways that matter, AMC’s The Walking Dead is unstoppable.
Following the epic midseason finale that saw one fan-favorite character’s journey come to a bloody end, AMC has released the viewership data for “Coda,” and it’s pretty darn impressive.
Said the network in an official statement:
AMC’s 'The Walking Dead' ended the first half of its fifth season last night with a mid-season finale that delivered 14.8 million viewers and 9.6 million adults 18-49, up 23% and 24%, respectively, over last season’s corresponding episode.
To put those numbers in perspective, the highest-rated broadcast series in 18-49 are NBC’s The Blacklist and ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, which are usually able to top out at around 5 million in the beloved 18-49 demographic. So, while networks such as CBS may be the most watched station in the United States, there’s currently no one that can compete with the monstrosity that is the AMC zombie drama.
What is in constant debate is the “why” of these numbers. Some say it’s because zombies are all the rage, some attribute the series success to its willingness to put Middle America on display (a tactic that CBS often uses for its series as well) and some say it has to do with the rabid fanbase that exists for Kirkman’s comics.
However, the truth is that it's probably all of the above. Some are coming for the zombies. Some are coming for Middle America representation. Some are coming for Kirkman. The show, it seems, has managed to provide something for everyone.
In regard to the events that took place during the midseason finale, showrunner Scott M. Gimple told Deadline:
This is something that will affect all of these characters extremely deeply moving into the next half of the season. These characters are being ground down into the Earth.
This isn’t the last devastating event to befall these characters… they are being tested and they are being pushed and this isn’t the end of that.
At this point, it’s hard to imagine there being any regular viewers of the series not expecting 100% emotional devastation when they watch this show. Among other things, The Walking Dead has made a name for itself as the show willing to kill anyone at anytime regardless of how liked they are by fans. In fact, sometimes those deaths don’t even come as dramatic moments, but rather just because of the world they live in (remember T-Dog).
For what it’s worth, season 5A was, in this writer's opinion, one of the best runs of The Walking Dead since the series began, and it really feels like the writers have finally found themselves in a good place since stabilizing things behind the scenes.
The Walking Dead will return to AMC in 2015.
Source: AMC and Deadline Hollywood