For three weeks, INTO THE BADLANDS had the opportunity to air its episodes out of the massive THE WALKING DEAD. nearly guaranteeing AMC-above-average ratings and viewership numbers, giving hope to the advertisers, because people keep watching their commercials even when THE WALKING DEAD is already over. When INTO THE BADLANDS lost its record-breaking lead-in, it was to be expected that the numbers would fall not only a little bit, but quite considerably. This is why the numbers for INTO THE BADLANDS are to be considered as skewed, and even after the first six episodes, nothing really can be said about the numbers. Especially not during the first three episodes, and somehow not during the last three episodes. A viewership of close to 2 million might have found the show and stuck with it, but compared to the numbers for BETTER CALL SAUL, INTO THE BADLANDS lost out. The numbers for the second half of the season were still above average for AMC, but it’s clear that three weeks of THE WALKING DEAD didn’t keep the five million viewers it brought to the screen at the beginning. Showing that THE WALKING DEAD is only good enough as a lead-in for following programs. The show itself can’t make fans out of its lead-out.
That was already proven during the first episode of INTO THE BADLANDS, when the ratings among adults 18-49 fell from a 3.93 in its first quarter hour to a 2.58 by its last quarter hour. That’s usually a drop only broadcast networks episodes see, when they tend to air right out of a massive lead-in (like the Super Bowl, maybe?). Anyway, the average numbers for the season are skewed, which probably means AMC will continue to air INTO THE BADLANDS out of one of their two monster shows (I still consider FEAR THE WALKING DEAD as one, though it really isn’t), just to carry the show and see if it might stand on its own through streaming, like BREAKING BAD did.
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2010 began AMC’s years-long effort to break one cable TV record after another. It can certainly be said that THE WALKING DEAD is the most brutal show on cable television (maybe even on TV in general) – one reason I gave up on the show after two and a half season, because I couldn’t stand the bleakness of it any longer (I even watched the death scenes of the season seven premiere and was disgusted by how much the show sells itself through its violence). But it can definitely be said that THE WALKING DEAD changed the ratings game on basic cable, as the show became a bigger hit with each season. The last time a show climbed like that in the ratings charts over multiple seasons was THE X-FILES, and that was over four seasons.
THE WALKING DEAD, when Frank Darabont was still showrunner and everything was happy-go-lucky behind the cameras (or so would AMC made you believe), premiered appropriately on Halloween in 2010, and immediately became AMC’s highest-rates series premiere – which doesn’t mean a lot, because AMC was still new to the game, having developed not more than five shows I can actually name from memory (THE LOT, THE PRISONER, MAD MEN, BREAKING BAD, and RUBICON). Still, the ratings were huge back then, but compared to the later ratings of the show, they are kind of small. Still, the AMC executives were most likely imagining taking a shower in Dollar bills, or otherwise they wouldn’t have been so harsh about cutting the production cost for the show (one of the reason Darabont was fired?). It speaks for the show’s quality, and the interest in bleak horror, when the season finale delivered the highest numbers of the season, no matter how short the season was at the end. And from here on, a long success story would follow, and some people might ask how long it will take for THE WALKING DEAD to end. 17, 18 seasons? Will it be the longest-running scripted cable series in history? (For that to happen, IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA needs to start thinking about an endgame)
Click me to the ratings