'The Walking Dead' has worst showing in many years

It wasn't so long ago that zombies, and "The Walking Dead," were all the rage. This week's ratings show how that's faded.

The latest episode of the AMC series was seen by 6.82 million viewers on Sunday, the drama's smallest audience since 2012. For the youthful 18-to-49-year-old demographic, it was the worst showing since 2010.

"The Walking Dead" this week competed directly against the Oscars, which themselves had a record low viewership. The first night ratings are also hurt by the same factors affecting television in general; viewers are increasingly finding different ways to watch. For example, in 2014 AMC found that three-quarters of viewers watched the show on live TV or on DVRs. Three years later, that number was down to 55 percent, with the rest watching streams online or through devices like Roku or Apple TV, and those people don't appear in the Nielsen company's weekly measurement.

"The Walking Dead" is still television's most popular drama among young viewers for the sixth season in a row, and no other drama has ever done that for more than four, AMC said.

Still, it's hard to deny that the numbers illustrate a marked decline in the show's decline in popularity.

Meanwhile, the Academy Awards have their own issues to talk about. It was the first time that the Oscars, seen Sunday by 26.5 million people, had ever had an audience smaller than 30 million. The relative unpopularity of the movies being honored surely had an impact. Conservative commentators claim that political messages from Hollywood figures made a difference, too.

ABC won the week in prime time behind the Oscars, averaging 7.6 million viewers. CBS had 6.8 million, NBC had 5.1 million, Fox had 2.8 million, Univision had 1.8 million, ION Television had 1.4 million, the CW had 1.2 million and Telemundo had 1.1 million.

Fox News Channel was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.24 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 1.82 million, HGTV had 1.42 million, ESPN had 1.39 million and USA had 1.31 million.

ABC's "World News Tonight" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.1 million viewers. NBC's "Nightly News" was second with 8.7 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.7 million.

For the week of Feb. 26-March 4, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "Academy Awards," ABC, 26.54 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 13.75 million; "Live From the Red Carpet" (7:30-8 p.m., Sunday), ABC, 13.13 million; "NCIS," CBS, 12.46 million; "Young Sheldon," CBS, 12.42 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 12.32 million; "The Voice" (Tuesday), NBC, 10.84 million; "Bull," CBS, 10.7 million; "Live From the Red Carpet" (7-7:30 p.m., Sunday), ABC, 10 million; "This is Us," NBC, 9.74 million.


ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.