How ‘The Walking Dead’ is Like ‘Jersey Shore’-Forbes

Last Sunday AMC’s The Walking Dead started its second season strong with 7.3 million people watching the 90-minute premier. The audience broke basic cable records. In the 18-49 and 25-54 age group demos Sunday’s show was the highest rated basic cable premier ever.

More 18-49 year olds tuned in to watch The Walking Dead Sunday night than turned to MTV to watch Jersey Shore. The gang from Seaside Heights drew 4.6 million viewers compared to The Walking Dead’s 4.8 million viewers in the most valuable demographic.

BTIG analyst Richard Greenfied says that Jersey Shore is an important frame of reference for The Walking Dead because  Jersey Shore helped expand MTV beyond its core viewers. Walking Dead (which AMC owns) could have the same impact on the cable network.

AMC now has four  hits series (including Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Killing) and as Greenfield says, “hits begats hits.” The network can use the momentum of Walking Dead to promote its new Western series Hell on Wheels which premiers November 6th.

If that show also turns out to be a hit, AMC will gain a lot of momentum as a station that shows edgy fare that can actually attract an audience. Since AMC owns The Walking Dead, the network was able to sell the first season to Netflix which premiered it on streaming just before season 2 started. Greenfield believes that giving newcomers the opportunity to watch all of the first season so close to the premier helped goose ratings for the second season.

Ideally for AMC, all of this will translate into higher ad rates but the network will also benefit from being able to sell Walking Dead into syndication.

AMC is a public company that was spun off from Cablevision this summer so you can buy stock in zombies. Shares are currently trading at $35.60, 24% off of the company’s 52-week high.

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