Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Walking Dead's midseason premiere.
When The Walking Dead returned to AMC for the remainder of Season 7 this weekend, the show managed to deliver a healthy does of light-hearted laughter and smiles, although there wasn't much good news to be had for the characters, since Daryl was forced to stay behind and neither Gregory nor Ezekiel were into backing Rick's anti-Negan plan. Behind the scenes, though, there was reason to celebrate, as The Walking Dead made a satisfying leap upward in the ratings that is most unlike how the numbers were sagging during the initial eight episodes of Season 7.
Sunday night's "Rock in the Road" was the first episode this season where The Walking Dead wasn't going head-to-head with any NFL football games, which predictably added an impressive number of viewers on the night. In the Live+Same Day stats, The Walking Dead's mid-premere was watched by 11.99 million total viewers, which is a 13% boost over the previous episode "Hearts Still Beating," which earned an audience of 10.58 million. An addition of 1.4 million pairs of eyeballs is nothing to scoff at, even for Enid and Carl.
And when it comes to the key demographic of adults 18-49 years old, the percentage boost was only slightly less impressive, but perhaps still more impressive overall, given how important the demo numbers are for a show like this. 7.3 million people within that near-12 million crowd fit into the 18-49 age group, giving the episode a ridiculously solid demo rating of 5.7, according to TV By the Numbers. In comparison, The Big Bang Theory's latest new episode had over 14 million total viewers, but only a 3.0 in the key demo. On Sunday night, the second and third most popular cable programs with adults were Talking Dead, with a 2.2 rating, and Real Housewives of Atlanta, which earned a 1.0 rating. So you can see that The Walking Dead is still dominating things there.
As the first half of Season 7 was winding down, The Walking Dead was facing its worst ratings problem in some time, with the standalone installments not drawing the mass crowds the show is so used to. But the cast and crew have done a lot to talk up the remainder of Season 7, stating the differences between these and past eps, so that's obviously been working. Now that the good guys are back to basics in trying to take down an evil villain, things will be quite a bit more fun for audiences, so we might just see those numbers crawling back up on the road to All-Out War. Just, you know, don't go thinking that the shop has stopped dealing out tragedies, because that definitely isn't the case.
Now with more whole grain survivors and vitamin-enriched weapons than ever before, The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what's coming to the small screen in the near future, head to our midseason premiere schedule.