The Shifting Television Paradigm

Via the NYTAt AMC, Zombies Topple Network TV comes some pretty amazing numbers:

During its run last fall, “The Walking Dead” was the highest-rated show among viewers 18 to 49, the most-sought age group, with a bigger audience than network winners like “The Big Bang Theory,” “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “Modern Family.”

Now the zombies are back for the second half of the show’s third season, and they continue to gnaw on everything in their path, including the broadcast networks’ historical claim to being the only place to find a mass audience. Three weeks ago, the zombies owned Sunday night, attracting 7.7 million viewers in the 18 to 49 range, more than any broadcast show in the land.

It gets better (or worse, if you are a network). AMC has a spinoff chat show about zombies called “The Talking Dead,” and even that is making waves. That same Sunday three weeks ago, “The Talking Dead” drew almost 2.8 million viewers ages 18 to 49, trumping NBC not just for the night, but for all of February.

Emphasis mine.

In regards to the role of Netflix:

AMC, along with its studio partners, has always made sure that if someone wants to catch up with America’s favorite zombies, or “Breaking Bad” or “Mad Men,” two of its other hits, then past seasons are readily available — on demand, on Netflix or on iTunes. As a result, the audience for “The Walking Dead” is up 51 percent overall last year, and it is one of the most consistently talked about shows on social media.

This is exactly how I got into both The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad and have recently watched the first few episode of Mad Men.  Heck, I was so invested in Breaking Bad that I bought the first half of season 5 on iTunes (and I don’t purchase a lot of TV episodes).  If I lacked this method of getting into these shows, I would never have become a viewer.

See, also, Erik Kain at ForbesHow Technology Is Making ‘The Walking Dead’ Television’s Most Popular Show.

FILED UNDER: Entertainment, Popular Culture, Science & Technology, , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Peter says:

    I find it amusing that people between the ages of 18 and 49 are considered a single demographic group for TV purposes. That is preposterously over-inclusive, extending from high school students to grandparents.

  2. john personna says:

    I find it freeing, being Netflix only, not to worry about when shows are released. Oh, I don’t get the latest, but I don’t’ have to worry about it either.

  3. matt says:

    Walking dead was pretty good at first. My only problem is my knowledge of survival firearms and such has lead me to facepalm waaaay too many times to continue watching the show.

  4. Just Nutha' says:

    @matt: It’s called “willful suspension of disbelief” for a reason. To apply Mr. Hughes’s wisdom on the subject, they’re not making history, it’s only a television show.

  5. Tony W says:

    @matt: I am sure that mischaracterization of weaponry classification on zombie-laced television shows threatens our 2nd amendment rights and destroys our freedom.

  6. john personna says:

    @Tony W:

    Obviously we need high capacity magazines, because zombies.

  7. matt says:

    @Just Nutha’: Yeah one time when I was watching the show with my friends I said something to the effect of “why are they doing *suchandsuch* that makes no sense for survival”. Friend next to me said “because the script told them to…”

    Hey lets set up on a farm and never bother actually trying to secure it. Oh and even better lets shoot guns all the time instead of using melee weapons because you know the walking dead don’t walk towards noises or anything. Oh I loved when they were leaving the farm and dude in the RV was like “Lets open the door in the middle of a pack of zombies!@!!”..

    Oh and why in god’s name would they not just completely sack the stores and take all the supplies home with them? Instead lets send a someone to town to get stuff one at a time..

    God I could sit here all day QQing about the stupid in that show.

  8. matt says:

    @john personna: @Tony W: You mad brah?

  9. matt says:

    @Tony W: It’s not even the complete lack of knowledge when it comes to weaponry that gets me the most. It’s the basic things like the lack of knowledge of how cars work and such.

  10. matt says:

    @Tony W: Even simple things like when Daryl shot the guy that had hung himself. There’s absolutely no reason for him to of left his bolt there. Anyone in that situation sure as shit would of cut the body down and retrieved the bolt…

  11. matt says:

    @matt: Oh and speaking of bolts. Why does he use the same bolts to kill zombies as he does to kill stuff he’s going to eat? That don’t make any sense from an eww gross standpoint let alone a hygiene standpoint..