12:17pm PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: 'Better Call Saul' Premiere Sets Cable Record, 'Walking Dead' Returns Steady
AMC roared back with a block of scripted originals on Sunday night, and Better Call Saul earned record cable ratings in its launch.
The Breaking Bad spinoff nabbed 6.9 million viewers and 3.4 rating among adults 18-49. Both of those stats make it the best series premiere in cable history. That's after The Walking Dead returned, steady with last year's midseason debut, to 15.6 million viewers and a 8.0 rating among adults 18-49. Only the Grammys drew bigger numbers last night — or, for that matter, last week.
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Sundays could have have presented AMC with a rather unique predicament. The network, like most of its cable contemporaries, is largely waiting on live-plus-3 returns before sharing ratings data, but The Walking Dead remains TV's highest-rated series and a major live draw. Numbers like last night's are the kind any network would want to tout as much (and as soon) as possible. Saul, on the other hand, could still prove to be more of a time-shifted series — like Mad Men.
The next few weeks will tell if that's the case or not. And the first test will be Monday night. The second half of the two-hour series premiere airs at 10 p.m. ET, without The Walking Dead by its side.
As for The Walking Dead, it remains as much of a juggernaut as ever. It may not have broken any records, but it beat its fall finale from December. And given the huge, if humbled, draw of the Grammy Awards, The Walking Dead may see a larger than normal spike once DVR views are factored. Live-plus-3 ratings will come later this week.