Bloody big ratings Sunday for Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, The Bible

An intense battle for viewers put plenty of people in front of their TVs Sunday night. Photo: Jon Snow, Game of Thrones / Photo HBO

SAN DIEGO – April 1, 2013 – You know those nights when you have a choice of 200 TV channels plus on demand and there’s nothing you want to watch? Sunday night wasn’t one of those nights.

Cable television put its best series of 2013 up against each other and drew record ratings despite the intense competition. While the figures are still preliminary, the finales of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and History’s “The Bible” combined drew an estimated audience about 25 million viewers.

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The big winner was HBO’s “Game of Thrones” which aired its Season 3 debut Sunday night. Preliminary ratings show it drew a record 4.4 million viewers in its initial hour premiere, which is up four percent from its previous all-time high, the Season 2 finale; and 13 percent higher than ratings for the Season 2 premier a year ago.

But this is deceiving, because the first hour ran only on the HBO East Coast feed (available in other time zones only via digital cable), unlike “Walking Dead” or “The Bible on their respective cable networks.  When all three plays were added, “Game of Thrones” was seen by 6.7 million viewers, a record high and up seven percent from the Season 2 debut across all three time zones.

“Thrones” has impressively grown its audience with each of its finales and premieres. The series’ very first episode drew 2.2 million in April 2011, likely fans who had read at least some of the original George R.R. Martin novels. It concluded year one with just over three million viewers. After reruns through the summer, Season 2 started with 3.8 million viewers, and ended with 4.2 million viewers.

What is stunning news is that the series has not yet been formally renewed for a fourth season by HBO, although there is talk that GOT author Martin, who is also an executive producer with the HBO series, will have a walk-on role in Season 4. Stay tuned.

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Preliminary total-viewer and demo estimates weren’t available Monday morning for cable’s Sunday winners, but in the television markets where Nielsen measures overnight ratings (metered markets), AMC’s “The Walking Dead” scored a big 6.5 household rating/10 share, which should mean record viewers over its previous high of 12.3 million viewers.

The final episode of “The Bible” on the History Channel dropped a little from its opening episode on March 3, but it should approach close to 13 million viewers when the final figures are in.

The big winner of the night was still a broadcast network. CBS benefitted from the NCAA basketball tournament running 45 minutes late and making big news due to the unfortunate injury to Louisville player Kevin Ware, which hit social media like a bomb. CBS dominated the desirable 18-49 age group and measured a preliminary audience of  15.7 million viewers overall in the 7 p.m. ET hour. The reality TV series “The Amazing Race” and the start of “The Good Wife” were the beneficiaries with increased audiences.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

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Copyright © 2013 by Falcon Valley Group



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Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.


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