Walking Dead, Downton Abbey Win Ratings Gold Over Winter Olympics

The final night of the Olympics may have had the most overall viewers, but NBC got destroyed in the demo by scripted fare.

Feb 25, 2014 at 5:46PM

Sundays are quickly becoming a battleground night with HBO, Showtime, AMC, and the major broadcasters all claiming a share of the audience. But with the Olympics airing its closing ceremonies, many expected the balance of power to temporarily shift. It didn't.


(Credit NBC/Getty)


The Olympics got roughed up over the past two weeks, but that happens when the host city is in a time zone that doesn't translate to events being shown live in primetime in the U.S. Add to that increased viewing competition and the fact their weren't as many "name" athletes this time around, NBC (a subsidiary of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA)) grabbed ratings for the Winter Games' that went noticeably downhill after a respectable start.

Sunday's closing ceremonies capped off a ratings slide with a 3.3 in the important 18-49 demo, which is down from the 5.5 demo rating Vancouver had in 2010. The news didn't get much better in the household ratings -- it did an 8.7/13, which is a new low, dipping below 2006's Torino capper. On the bright side its 15.1 million viewers may not be massive, but it did top Torino's 14.8 million mark. The record for the least viewers of the closing ceremonies still belongs to Innsbruck's 1976 games, which had 12.9 million viewers.

Downton Abbey


(Credit: iTV/PBS)

On the other hand it was a good night for Downton Abbey as it ended its fourth season stateside with its double-length finale. The Crawley crew drew 8.5 million viewers, which is 300,000 viewers more than the 8.2 million that tuned into season three's tear-jerker finale last year.

The results aren't really shocking though as the show was already having its highest rated season yet. The premiere opened to 10.2 million viewers (a 22% jump from the 7.9 million who watched the season 3 debut). Remember, Downton also did well against the Super Bowl, earning 6.8 million viewers, a 200,000 year-to-year gain.

Downton also had a stellar run in the U.K. this season on iTV (LSE:ITV), where it drew 9.5 million viewers to start and 9.8 million to end. Taking into account all forms of viewing, the show averaged close to 12 million per episode, making it the highest-rated TV drama in the U.K. of 2013.

The Walking Dead


(Credit: AMC)

For the third week in row the Olympics also got walked over by The Walking Dead. Sunday's episode did a 6.6 in the demo compared to the 3.3 pulled by the Olympics. In terms of viewers that translates to 8.4 million -- less than the Winter Games, but not a surprise. It's common for Dead to rise in the 18-49 demo and fall in total numbers. AMC (NASDAQ: AMCX) will take that trade-off any day as the demo is the one advertisers most covet. 


NBC also had an additional reason to key an eye on those numbers Sunday night as the network again carved out a window to sneak preview a new series. Growing up Fisher posted a 2.0 rating in the demo with 8.8 million viewers. While some sites have said that those numbers were solid, I don't agree. That's lower than the 4.1 demo rating and 12.4 million viewer sample that Animal Practice did in 2012 and a steep 59% plunge in the demo from when The Marriage Ref aired in that slot following 2010's capper. Saturday's sneak of About a Boy did comparable numbers with a 2.2 rating in the 18-49 demo and 8.3 million viewers overall.

Granted the retention rates for both shows were strong, and you have to take into account that it didn't have the same size audience as a lead-in the other shows had coming out of past Olympics. But still many had expected slightly higher numbers. Now we wait until the shows settle into their official timeslots this week and see if the Olympic bump finally works the way it was intended, or if it is back to the drawing board before Rio's 2016 games.

The next step for you
Want to profit on business analysis like this? The key for your future is to turn business insights into portfolio gold through smart and steady investing ... starting right now. Those who wait on the sidelines are missing out on huge gains and putting their financial futures in jeopardy. The Motley Fool is offering a new special report, an essential guide to investing, which includes access to top stocks to buy now. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Brett Gold has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends AMC Networks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information