How Do Other Shows Compare to The Walking Dead’s Monster Ratings?

Photo: Bob Mahoney/TWD Productions/AMC

Yesterday, AMC announced that the second season premiere of The Walking Dead shattered its own internal ratings records, attracting 7.3 million viewers and averaging a 3.8 rating with undead-heads under 50. In a cable universe where some networks routinely brag about shows attracting 1 or 2 million viewers, Dead is a bona fide blockbuster, particularly in the younger demos valued most by advertisers. But just how big is it? Is it bigger than The Big Bang Theory? More popular than Jersey Shore? Vulture decided to crunch some skulls numbers.

One last housekeeping note: Adding up all of AMC's Sunday telecasts of Dead brings the show's tune-in to north of 11 million; even more viewers will come via subsequent repeats, DVR usage, and video on demand. But those caveats also apply to broadcast shows. NBC, for example, aired a Harry's Law episode on Saturday that added in another 3 million viewers. But all that data isn't in yet, so the best apples-to-apples (or is that corpses-to-corpses?) comparison is between initial broadcasts. And by this standard, Dead is (decapitated) heads and shoulders above almost everything on cable right now, and a legit player when compared to broadcast competition.