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Thursday, February 25, 2021

‘Fear the Walking Dead’ crushes the ratings

Tired of endless spin-offs of your favorite shows, worrying if they’ll dilute the brand or ruin the legacy of the original? Sorry! As it turns out, spin-offs are a very profitable idea in this TV climate, so brace yourself for more.

As proof, AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead” — a prequel of its wildly successful, highly-rated “Walking Dead” drama — premiered to a ridiculously high 10 million viewers on Sunday night, making it the most-watched series debut in cable history in total viewers. Even better, 6.3 million of those people are in the coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic, the favorite of advertisers.

The last time this strategy worked? In February, when AMC’s “Breaking Bad” spin-off “Better Call Saul” also crushed the ratings with 9.8 million viewers. While the show’s buzz dropped off pretty quickly after, the drama still landed quite a few Emmy nominations this year, including one in the prestigious Best Drama race.

While new programs are always risky, it’s a solid move to simply give viewers more of their favorite show to get a ratings boost: Broadcast staples like “NCIS” and “Law & Order” and “CSI” have been spinning off and multiplying for years. AMC got a taste of this when it started producing after-shows like “Talking Dead” and “Talking Bad” to analyze their hit shows. Spin-offs for both were inevitable.

Even though spin-offs aren’t a long-term solution, it still works for AMC’s reputation in a post-“Mad Men” world: Now, instead of talking about how the channel’s newer shows like “Halt and Catch Fire” and “Turn” aren’t getting “Mad Men”-level buzz, people are focused on the network’s penchant for absurdly high ratings on the other programming.

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