Last Sunday’s debut of The Walking Dead: Dead City was not only successful for the highly anticipated spin-off, but it was so successful that it broke a record for the most-watched drama series debut of the year, according to Nielson ratings.
Sure, the year is only halfway over, but this is quite an accomplishment for a spin-off series. The debut racked up 683,000 viewers on AMC with simulcasts on BBC America and IFC helping to bring that total up to 1.12 million.
As far as demographics, a total of 732,000 of those viewers were adults between the ages of 25 to 54, which is usually The Walking Dead’s core demographic. These numbers also set a record for cable debuts this year.
“We are thrilled so many viewers joined Maggie and Negan in the streets of Manhattan for the first episode of The Walking Dead: Dead City,” said Dan McDermott, president of entertainment and AMC Studios for AMC Networks. “The thrill ride keeps rolling from here, and we can’t wait for the fans to see all the twists and turns in the city that never sleeps. Turns out walkers don’t sleep, either.”
Dead City follows original series cast members Lauren Cohan (Maggie) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan) as they search for Maggie’s lost son in the middle of Manhattan. In my review of that first episode, I point out that “Despite Negan’s horrific act that polarized the core TWD community all those years ago, he’s still charismatic enough to be one of the most beloved characters.” The second episode gave more context to everyone’s situation, but we’ll see how and where it goes from here.
While a 1.12 million viewer number for a day-one series might seem low — especially for a spin-off of a highly successful series like The Walking Dead, it’s really impressive for 2023. As Hollywood Reporter points out, the days of multi-million viewer numbers on a cable series debut are all but gone, so fans should be happy with this report. Dead City beat out Interview With the Vampire (622,000 viewers), Mayfair Witches (577,000), and Tales of the Walking Dead (572,000) for that top spot of the year so far.
Episodes 1 and 2 of Dead City are currently available to AMC+ subscribers, but everyone else will need to wait until Sunday to see that second episode.