'Walking Dead,' 'True Detective' Finale Ratings Unfazed by Oscars

Both shows hold up reasonably well opposite the big audience for Sunday's Academy Awards.
Gene Page/AMC
'The Walking Dead'

The Oscars got a solid year-to-year ratings bump Sunday night, but the audience that came back to ABC's broadcast doesn't appear to have come from two of the night's biggest cable shows.

AMC's The Walking Dead improved its adults 18-49 rating a little from the prior week's series low, and the season finale of HBO's True Detective delivered above-average ratings opposite the Academy Awards. The kudocast was airing as its star, Mahershala Ali, accepted the Oscar for best supporting actor in Green Book.

The Walking Dead did indeed fall to a new all-time low in viewers with 4.39 million, down about 4 percent from the previous week. But its 1.7 rating among adults 18-49 was a tick higher than the previous 1.6, which was a series low. 

The previous two Walking Dead episodes to air opposite the Oscars fell by larger percentages in viewers vs. their previous outings (18 percent in 2018 and 6 percent in 2017), and both declined in adults 18-49 as well.

True Detective, meanwhile, finished its season with 1.38 million viewers tuning in to the finale's first airing. That's the third-highest total of the season, behind the Jan. 27 episode (1.45 million) and the premiere (1.44 million). For the season, the show averaged 1.25 million viewers for initial airings.

Both shows will add considerable audience via delayed viewing. The Walking Dead jumps by more than 50 percent with three days of catch-up viewing; HBO says True Detective's multiplatform audience is about 8 million viewers, more than six times the linear number.

Also on Sunday, E!'s Oscars red-carpet coverage had double-digit growth vs. 2018, mirroring the gains for the Oscar ceremony itself. The cabler averaged 1.8 million viewers for its coverage, up a sizable 32 percent, and 631,000 adults 18-49, an 11 percent gain.