Two days ago, THR ran a ratings piece suggesting that Game of Thrones was about to overtake The Walking Dead as cable’s biggest drama. Although Game of Thrones only gets around 7.2 million viewers for the premiere broadcast of each episode, HBO asserts that once repeats and HBO viewers are taken into account, Game of Thrones actually jumps to around 18 million viewers (in fact, if it surpasses 18.2 million viewers, it surpasses The Sopranos as the most watched season in HBO history).
Based on the numbers THR had two days ago, it also puts Game of Thrones in spitting distance of the 18.4 million viewers that The Walking Dead commands each week as cable’s highest rated drama.
But not so fast: THR asked AMC for ratings of The Walking Dead once on-deman, DVR viewership and replays are accounted for, and it turns out it’s not really even close. The Walking Dead actually commands 28 million viewers weekly, which actually gives the AMC drama higher ratings than Friends used to get.
In other words, The Walking Dead is not only the highest rated cable drama by today’s ratings standards, it would’ve been competitive with the highest rated shows of the 1990s, before all the fracturing of TV viewers.