It’s awesome that The Walking Dead is a hit series for AMC, and it’s impressive how the ratings continue to grow. The Season Two opener nabbed 7.3 million viewers a couple of weeks ago (5 million of those in the coveted 18-49 demographic) and execs there are buoyed so much by the viewership numbers for the first two episodes that they have already ordered a third season. With so many new network shows being canned early because of low ratings or unfulfilled expectations (and a little too quickly, I might add), it is nice when the opposite happens.
In a standard renewal statement, AMC President Charlie Collier said, “Today we are pleased to announce that the ‘dead’ shall live as we proudly renew The Walking Dead for a third season on AMC and, globally, with our terrific partners at Fox International Channels. We are thankful for everyone’s contribution in front of and behind the camera as we continue to make The Walking Dead a unique television experience. And we are so proud as it continues to set viewership records around the world.”
The Walking Dead is not simply a smash hit for AMC, whose deservedly acclaimed dramas Mad Men and Breaking Bad draw less than half of the ratings figures of their zombie success. Attracting over 7 million viewers weekly is akin to having a Top 40 network show, if not better. Last week’s #20 network show, 2 Broke Girls, drew 11.4 million (while #1 hit NCIS lured in 19 million). With the diminishing returns of many network shows, cable hits like The Walking Dead are substantial and show how there is a growing appetite for intelligent, offbeat fare.
It is also a good sign for horror television. Recently, FX’s new American Horror Story show drew 3.2 million viewers for its pilot episode, while its third episode snared 2.6 million. That show also made the cover of EW.