Sunday’s fifth season premiere of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” drew a record audience for a basic cable drama series, while CBS was the most-watched network for the third time in the three-week-old prime-time television season.
“The Walking Dead” averaged 17.29 million viewers, finishing third among prime-time broadcast and cable programs airing between Oct. 6 and Sunday, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen today.
The previous record for a basic cable drama series was the fourth season premiere of “The Walking Dead,” which averaged 16.11 million viewers on Oct. 13, 2013.
CBS had four of the week’s six most-watched programs and averaged 10.32 million viewers for its prime-time programming. NBC was second, averaging 8.12 million, followed by ABC, which averaged 7.08 million, and Fox, which averaged 5.45 million viewers.
An NBC prime-time NFL game was the most-watched program for the sixth consecutive week, with the Philadelphia Eagles 27-0 victory over the New York Giants on “Sunday Night Football” averaging 18.09 million viewers.
CBS had the week’s most-watched scripted series, “NCIS,” which averaged 17.3 million viewers, finishing second overall; the most-watched comedy, the 8 p.m. Monday episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” which averaged 15.94 million viewers to finish fourth; and the most-watched new series, “NCIS: New Orleans,” which averaged 15.41 million viewers, finishing sixth.
The week’s only premiere on the four major broadcast networks, the ABC comedy “Cristela,” won its Friday 8:30-9 p.m. time slot, averaging 6.52 million viewers, finishing 47th for the week.
For the third time this season, NBC finished first among viewers ages 18-49, the group it, ABC and Fox target and advertisers covet because it watches less television and is harder to reach.
“The Walking Dead” was the week’s most-watched programs among the group, averaging 10.99 million viewers; followed by “Sunday Night Football”
(8.36 million); Fox’s 10-minute NFL postgame show, “The OT” (7 million); CBS’ “Thursday Night Football” football game between the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts (6.9 million); and NBC’s nine-minute “Sunday Night Football” kickoff show (6.58 million).
The live-plus-same day figures are treated with less importance by network executives than they had been in the past because the growing amount of delayed viewing has prompted advertisers to increase acceptance of figures that include delayed viewing.
CBS and ABC both broadcast 22 hours of prime-time programming for ratings purposes, NBC 21 1/2 hours and Fox 16 hours.
ESPN was the most-watched cable network for the fifth consecutive week, averaging 3.05 million viewers.
The week’s most-watched Spanish-language prime-time program was Tuesday episode of the Univision telenovela “Mi Corazon Es Tuyo,” which averaged 4.29 million viewers, 74th among all prime-time broadcast and cable programs.
As usual, Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network, averaging 2.8 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 1.11 million, followed by UniMas, which averaged 730,000, Estrella TV, which averaged 250,000, MundoFox, which averaged 160,000 and Azteca America, which averaged 90,000.
Figures for the network nightly newscasts were not available.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”; CBS’ “NCIS”; AMC’s “The Walking Dead”; CBS’ 8 p.m. Monday episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” “Thursday Night Football” and “NCIS: New Orleans”; NBC’s nine-minute “Sunday Night Football” kickoff show; Fox’s 10-minute NFL postgame show, “The OT”; ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” game between the Seattle Seahawks and Washington; and the Monday episode of the NBC singing competition “The Voice”.