TV Ratings: BETTER CALL SAUL Breaks Cable Records; THE WALKING DEAD Also Dominates

     February 9, 2015


Jimmy McGill may be down on his luck, but so far, AMC is riding high with Better Call Saul.

The first night of Better Call Saul‘s two-night premiere pulled 6.9 million viewers (4.4 million in the key 18-49 demo). That’s the best result since Deadwood (Deadwood!) in 2004. Breaking Bad, of course, only drew 1.4 million viewers when it debuted in 2008. By the time its final run started in 2013, though, it was up to 5.92 million, and notched a whopping 10.28 million for its finale (for which AMC can probably thank Netflix, where there was much binging thanks to word-of-mouth).

the-walking-dead-image-season-5-episode-9-andrew-lincolnBut as I mentioned in today’s earlier ratings piece, what will be interesting to see is how Saul fares on Monday nights in its regular slot, which starts tonight at 10 p.m.

As for AMC’s other ratings juggernaut, The Walking Dead‘s numbers are up from its winter finale, and steady with last year’s midseason premiere. The show pulled in 15.6 million total viewers, and 10.1 million in the key demo (just 539,000 behind the post-Super Bowl episode of The Blacklist; The Walking Dead needs no introduction). Though last year it beat the Winter Olympics, it couldn’t quite beat the Grammys this time — but it was close. The Walking Dead pulled an 8.0 ratings, while the Grammys notched an 8.5.

Remember, when it comes to cable, DVR views and Live-plus-three ratings will also put the overall numbers up, and next week, The Walking Dead won’t face much live competition.

Here’s AMC’s full press release:

NEW YORK, NY – February 9, 2015 – The premiere of “Better Call Saul” on AMC last night was the biggest series premiere in cable history, drawing 4.4 million adults 18-49 and 4.0 million adults 25-54. The second episode of “Better Call Saul” airs tonight at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, as part of a two-night television premiere event.


“The Walking Dead” returned for the second half of its fifth season with a mid-season premiere that delivered 15.6 million total viewers and 10.1 million adults 18-49. “The Walking Dead” remains the #1 show in all of television among adults 18-49. Last night’s episode was the highest performing regularly-scheduled entertainment program of 2015. With time-shifted playback added in, this mid-season premiere of “The Walking Dead” should exceed more than 20 million viewers. AMC also expects to see significant time-shifting activity for “Better Call Saul,” as the show is opening up a new night of original programming for the network on Mondays. AMC will next release ratings information for “Better Call Saul” early next week, with the arrival of live+3 Nielsen ratings for the two-night premiere.


Also last night, the “Talking Dead” aftershow premiered at a special time (Sunday 11:15pm – 12:15am) and delivered 2.8 million viewers and 1.9 million adults 18-49. Each week, “Talking Dead” features host Chris Hardwick and fans, actors, producers and other TV enthusiasts discussing that night’s “The Walking Dead” premiere. The mid-season premiere featured Chad L. Coleman (Tyreese) and executive producer Greg Nicotero, who also directed last night’s episode of “The Walking Dead.”


“In a competitive environment that sometimes gets as much press as the shows themselves, it is gratifying to deliver programming that breaks through and reaches passionate audiences. For AMC, it starts with the creative talent we are so fortunate to be working with including, among many others – in the order of last night’s unforgettable schedule – Robert Kirkman and Scott Gimple of The Walking Dead, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould of Better Call Saul, and Chris Hardwick of Talking Dead,” said Charlie Collier, AMC president. “We are supremely thankful for the talented people who call this network home, and for the fans who continue to make AMC a television destination unlike any other. Walking. Calling. Talking. Humbling.”


Key Nielsen Highlights for the Season Five Mid-Season Premiere of “The Walking Dead”


  • 9:00 pm airing – 7.9 HH national rating (9.7 cvg) with 15.6 million viewers
  • 9:00 pm airing – 8.0 national rating (10.0 cvg) with 10.1 million Adults 18-49
  • 9:00 pm airing – 8.0 national rating (9.9 cvg) with 9.5 million Adults 25-54


Key Nielsen Highlights for the Series Premiere of “Better Call Saul”


  • 10:00 pm airing – 3.7 HH national rating (4.5 cvg) with 6.9 million viewers
  • 10:00 pm airing – 3.4 national rating (4.3 cvg)  with 4.4 million Adults 18-49
  • 10:00 pm airing – 3.3 national rating (4.1 cvg) with 4.0 million Adults 25-54


Key Nielsen Highlights for the Season Four Mid-Season Premiere of “Talking Dead”


  • 11:15 pm airing – 1.6 national rating (2.0 cvg) with 2.8 million viewers
  • 11:15 pm airing – 1.5 national rating (1.9 cvg) with 1.9 million Adults 18-49
  • 11:15 pm airing – 1.4 national rating (1.8 cvg) with 1.7 million Adults 25-54


Top 5 Entertainment programs of 2015: Adults 18-49

1.      NBC    BLACKLIST, special slot/post-Super Bowl (2/1/15) 10,668

2.      AMC   THE WALKING DEAD (2/9/15)                              10,129

3.      FOX    SIMPSONS (1/4/15)                                                     5,981

4.      FOX    EMPIRE (2/4/15)                                                          5,870

5.      CBS    BIG BANG THEORY (1/8/15)                                   5,866



Source: Nielsen Media Research fast nationals (US ratings), L+SD.


“The Walking Dead” and “Better Call Saul” also enjoyed strong social momentum last night, as the two series were the #1 and #2 most engaged shows, respectively, among the night’s primetime series based on the ListenFirst Digital Audience RatingsTM. Throughout premiere night, “The Walking Dead” consistently landed among the Twitter Top 10 Trending list, at one point holding 6 of the top 10 trends at once. Leading up to premiere, “The Walking Dead” was the most engaging program on Facebook for the week, outperforming all other programs by more than 2 million engagements. Premiere day was particularly strong for “The Walking Dead” on Instagram, where once again it ranked as the most engaging television series for the day. “Better Call Saul” also trended on Twitter and Facebook for a significant portion of the evening.


About AMC

Whether commemorating favorite films from every genre and decade, or creating acclaimed original programming, AMC brings to its audience something deeper, something richer, Something More. The network reigns as the only cable network in history ever to win the Emmy® Award for Outstanding Drama Series four years in a row with “Mad Men,” and six of the last seven with current back-to-back honoree, “Breaking Bad.” The network boasts the most-watched drama series in basic cable history and the number one show on television among adults 18-49 for the last two years with “The Walking Dead.” AMC’s original drama series include “Mad Men,” “The Walking Dead,” “Better Call Saul,” “Hell on Wheels,” “TURN: Washington’s Spies,” “Halt and Catch Fire,” and the forthcoming “Humans,” “The Making of The Mob: New York,” “Into the Badlands” and “The Night Manager.” AMC also explores authentic worlds and discussion with original shows like “Talking Dead” and “Comic Book Men.” AMC is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc. and its sister networks include IFC, SundanceTV, BBC America and WE tv. AMC is available across all platforms, including on-air, online, on demand and mobile. AMC:Something More.