“For fans of The Walking Dead, the show is like their favorite team playing a home game on national TV every week.”
-AMC president Charlie Collier
It’s almost impossible to beat the NFL in a head-to-head ratings matchup—almost being the key word. Over a two-month stretch this fall, The Walking Dead aired eight episodes during NBC’s Sunday Night Football. The show came out on top five times in the 18-49 demographic. Five times. Once or twice would be understandable given the lack of competition during those games, but five times suggests The Walking Dead is on to something.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, AMC president Charlie Collier revealed the network’s strategy for coming out on top.
But Collier did reveal something interesting about going head to head against the NFL during an interview with Sports Illustrated last week. He said his network scheduled this year’s show with deference to the NFL’s late-season schedule and playoffs, which is why The Walking Dead ended its run on Nov. 30 and will pick up again on Feb. 8, a week after Super Bowl XLIX. Collier said network research showed that there was a lot of crossover between The Walking Dead fans and NFL fans, and out of respect for those fans, the AMC show will go on hiatus during the NFL’s most important time. It also gave AMC the opportunity to build up buzz against the NFL early in its season. If the NFL is vulnerable at all as a television play, it’s prior to Thanksgiving.
Now to be fair, there were some serious stinkers on Sunday night.
That’s seven straight weeks of bad games. Seven straight weeks where the average score was 42-16. Ouch. But still, NFL fans are diehards. NFL fans tune in when the games aren’t good, right? Hmmm. Maybe, just maybe The Walking Dead got a little lucky. Maybe, just maybe The Walking Dead caught the NFL in a bad stretch.