The Walking Dead and Michael Jordan Dominate Cable Ratings in 2020

As many people have found themselves at home consuming more content that usual throughout 2020, the cable ratings are being dominated by a couple of big titles. The biggest among those on top of the cable game are AMC's The Walking Dead and ESPN's Michaeel Jordan documentary The Last Dance. While many seem to have jumped ship from linear viewing schedules across the board and a shift to on-demand viewing has occurred in recent year, the titles managed to combat the change and rake in viewers by the millions for their live broadcasts in primetime spots on their respective networks.

"Yes, the AMC flagship's numbers are a shadow of what they were a few seasons ago," THR reports. "The same could be said for a large majority of shows on linear networks, and the fact remains that The Walking Dead remains far above all other scripted shows on cable, averaging 5.4 million viewers and a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49 with a week of delayed viewing. The demo number ranks 11th among all Nielsen-measured primetime shows this season. AMC's Better Call Saul ranks fourth among cable dramas in adults 18-49 and 25-54, and the joint AMC and BBC America airings of Killing Eve rank 15th."

The Walking Dead peaked at 17.1 million viewers half way through its 10 year run to date and nearly matched its personal best for live viewership with the Season 7 finale, which was the largest episode since the record was set with 17 million live viewers tuning in to find out who Negan killed. A perfect example for how viewing schedules have shifted comes from FXX's Dave, a scripted show about the life of rapper Lil Dicky. The series averaged just 213,000 live viewers by this increased to 5.32 million with viewers streaming from Hulu where it was available the next day.

The Last Dance boasted very impressive numbers, possibly bolstered by a lack of live sports and huge chatter about the series on social media.


"This is not just a case of recency bias," THR says. "ESPN's nonfiction series about Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls is among the highest-rated shows on all of Nielsen-measured TV this season. Among adults 18-49, only three primetime NFL franchises and The Masked Singer ranked higher than The Last Dance's 2.9 rating. Across all platforms, the series averaged almost 12.9 million viewers through May 20."

The Walking Dead still have one episode from its tenth season to complete for airing later this year. AMC renewed the apocalypse series for an eleventh season but production has not yet begun.

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