The special 90-minute Season 5 finale of The Walking Dead last night was the highest-rated finale in series history, delivering 15.8 million viewers and 10.4 million adults 18-49. The episode capped the show's strong fifth season with all 16 episodes ranking in the top 20 entertainment telecasts across all of television this broadcast season among adults 18-49. When including sports and specials, all 16 episodes of The Walking Dead Season 5 rank in the top 50 telecasts across all of television among adults 18-49 - the first time a series has achieved this in cable history. With time-shifted playback added in, this season finale of The Walking Dead should exceed more than 20 million viewers and 14 million adults 18-49.
The Walking Dead remains the #1 show in all of television among adults 18-49. Despite formidable competition from the NFL in the first half of its season and special event programming in the second half, such as the Oscars, the Grammys, the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special and the NBA All-Star Game, the show's fifth season has delivered an average of 14.4 million viewers and 9.4 million adults 18-49 live/same day across its 16 episodes, an increase of 9% season over season in adults 18-49.
Also last night, Talking Dead achieved its highest-rated episode in series history, drawing 7.5 million viewers and 4.9 million adults 18-49. Each week, the live Talking Dead aftershow features host Chris Hardwick and fans, actors, producers and other TV enthusiasts discussing that night's The Walking Dead premiere. Last night's season finale featured Norman Reedus (Daryl), Melissa McBride (Carol) and Lennie James (Morgan).
The Walking Dead and Talking Dead were among the top 3 telecasts in all of cable among adults 18-49 for 12 out of the 16 weeks they aired this season; for six of those weeks, they were the #1 and #2 telecasts, respectively. This season, Talking Dead solidified its position as a top 10 show across all of television in adults 18-49 - an astonishing level of success for an aftershow originally conceived as a way to provide an on-air focal point for the conversation that followed episodes of The Walking Dead, particularly in social media.
Last night's Season 5 finale of The Walking Dead was also the #1 most engaging series of the day on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr, outperforming all cable, broadcast and streaming episodic series. Here's what Charlie Collier, AMC president, had to say about the ratings in a statement.
"It's tough enough in today's competitive environment to command attention, and even harder to hold onto it. So, for The Walking Dead to maintain this level of urgent viewership in its fifth season - and to end with the highest-rated finale in series history - is really something rare and remarkable. We're thankful to Robert Kirkman, Scott M. Gimple, Chris Hardwick, our fantastic executive producers and the talented writers, cast and crews for delivering another season of Unforgettable and engaging television. And to the many amazing people who drive the passion for this program across multiple platforms, I paraphrase (and welcome back) Morgan when I say, 'All fans are precious.'"
Key Nielsen Highlights for the Season 5 Finale of The Walking Dead
- 9:00 pm airing - 8.1 HH national rating (10.0 cvg) with 15.8 million viewers
- 9:00 pm airing - 8.2 national rating (10.3 cvg) with 10.4 million Adults 18-49
- 9:00 pm airing - 8.0 national rating (10.0 cvg) with 9.6 million Adults 25-54
Key Nielsen Highlights for the Season 4 Finale of Talking Dead
- 10:31 pm airing - 3.8 national rating (4.7 cvg) with 7.5 million viewers
- 10:31 pm airing - 3.9 national rating (4.8 cvg) with 4.9 million Adults 18-49
- 10:31 pm airing - 3.8 national rating (4.7 cvg) with 4.5 million Adults 25-54