"Fear the Walking Dead" gave the rest of the Sunday night schedule something to be afraid of, posting huge numbers with its debut episode, a cool 10.1 million, and setting a new cable series premiere ratings record. The previous record was set by network-mate "Better Call Saul," which drew 6.9 million viewers when it debuted in February.
While proving to be a promising start for the "Walking Dead" companion series, the numbers are still dwarfed by those of the parent series, whose Season 5 premiere drew a record 17.3 million viewers. That said, "Fear's" numbers are nearly double the initial ratings of "The Walking Dead" when it premiered just five years ago with 5.4 million viewers.
It's also worth noting that "Fear" scored its ratings coup against (albeit, pre-season) "Sunday Night Football," always a ratings stalwart, and without the benefit of a strong ratings lead-in. For example, previous record-holder "Better Call Saul" had the benefit of the "Walking Dead" midseason premiere to buoy its premiere ratings.
AMC is naturally excited about the success of its nascent series, with network President Charlie Collier saying, "It is increasingly difficult to evaluate a show's success on night one. However, we are releasing these live/same-day ratings because "Fear the Walking Dead" delivered record-breaking numbers that are all the more special in this era of time-shifted viewing and audience fragmentation. To have a companion series to the No. 1 show on television driving communal, urgent viewing, social activity and pop cultural relevance of this magnitude is truly differentiating."
Follow me on Twitter at @midwestspitfire.