Better Call Saul Premieres With Best Cable Ratings Ever

By
Photo: Ursula Coyote/AMC

Better call it a hit: AMC’s Better Call Saul debuted Sunday with a bang, generating the biggest premiere ratings ever for a cable series among the advertiser-coveted demo of adult viewers under 50. Taking full advantage of a typically massive lead-in from The Walking Dead and brushing off competition from the Grammys on CBS, Saul notched a 3.4 rating in the younger demo, which translates to 4.4 million viewers under 50. That’s nearly a million more than watched the previous record-holder — the 2004 launch of HBO’s Deadwood, which opened to 3.7 million younger viewers (thanks to a lead-in from The Sopranos). Saul also did well among viewers of all ages, drawing a healthy 6.9 million sets of eyeballs — but didn’t break any records on that front. TNT’s Rizzoli and Isles and The Closer both opened with more than 7 million viewers in 2010 and 2005, respectively. Still, AMC execs got viewers to check out Saul in advance of its move tonight to its regular 10 p.m. Monday slot, where it won’t have the benefit of a Walking Dead lead-in. 

Speaking of Dead, AMC’s zombie drama continues to thrive, though its run of record-breaking opens appears to be over. Sunday’s mid-season premiere drew 15.6 million viewers and an 8.0 rating among adults 18–49, a huge number but down a tick from last winter’s mid-season return (15.8 million, 8.2 rating). It’s possible Dead could still outperform its 2014 ratings, however, once DVR replays are tallied over the next few weeks. There’s no such hope for the Grammys, however, which is on track to score its smallest demo ratings in six years. Sunday’s kudocast drew 25.3 million viewers and averaged an 8.5 rating among adults under 50, dominating the night (even against AMC’s big drama guns) but coming in below 2014’s numbers (28.5 million and a 9.9 rating). See what happens when you don’t give Beyoncé her Grammy?