The Walking Dead Season 6 Premiere Ratings Were Way Bigger Than We Thought

The other day, the ratings came out for The Walking Dead’s Season 6 premiere, and while they were pretty huge compared to everything else on cable, the show saw one of its premieres dipping in viewers compared to the year before. For the first time in six seasons. But have no fear, those wondering if that decline was an omen, as the Live+3 numbers reveal a ton of people just didn’t happen to watch it live, and the episode’s total viewership almost hit 20 million.

When the dust and guts settled on Sunday night, around 14.6 million people had tuned in to watch “First Time Again” either live or in the repeat that aired later that night, with 9.4 million fitting into the key 18-49 demographic. But after the numbers were tallied that included people who watched on DVR, on demand and on digital services, they jumped up 33% for total viewers (19.5 million) and launched up 36% in the key demographic (12.9 million), according to THR. Those results are more in line with what we were expecting from the live airing, but Sunday nights are rough.

After all, The Walking Dead is almost always butting heads with the NFL’s Sunday Night Football on NBC. And even though it looks like the game between the 49ers and the Giants still managed to get watched by more people in its live airing with 19.59 million, The Walking Dead ended up right at its heels in the end, and that’s always huge. In the past couple of seasons, there have been a handful of Walking Dead episodes that got more eyeballs than an NFL game, which is something that relatively few shows can brag about.

And the premiere definitely deserved a big audience, as I found it to be the best episode of the series yet. It mixed good drama, a surprise death, massive special effects and a unique time structure. I know not every episode is going to match up to that kind of action, but we’re certainly hoping that’s the case. Check out the preview for Episode 2 below.

How many people do you guys think will tune in for Episode 2? Sunday Night Football is the New England Patriots taking on the Indianapolis Colts, which is always a good rivalry game, so we might see something similar to last weekend, when football fans choose sports over drama on that evening. We shall see.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.