AMC’s launch strategy for martial arts drama “Into the Badlands” appears to have paid off: The show’s post-“The Walking Dead” debut brought in about 6.4 million total viewers and 4.06 million in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic. It’s the biggest launch of the fall season in that all-important demo, smacking down not only new cable shows like FX’s “The Bastard Executioner” but also NBC’s “Blindspot,” which grabbed the attention of 3.9 million 18-49ers, and CBS’ “Supergirl,” which notched about the same. (The total “Supergirl” audience is still tops, though, with just shy of 13 million.)
It’s a very promising start for AMC's non-spinoff series, though below the monster 8 million demo viewers of its newbie predecessor, “Fear the Walking Dead.” “Fear,” of course, had the advantage of being touted as a prequel to one of TV’s biggest hits (“The Walking Dead”). “Badlands” had to keep “Dead”’s audience intrigued while introducing an entirely new world to viewers. (Having your show’s protagonist dispatch more than half a dozen foes before the title sequence seems like an effective way of achieving that goal.) It’s also the fourth-best cable series debut ever in the demo, behind “Fear” and “Breaking Bad” spinoff “Better Call Saul.” USA’s 2002 drama “The Dead Zone” is, weirdly, No. 3.
“Badlands” followed a “Walking Dead” (original flavor) that was up about 5 percent from last Sunday’s episode, according to Nielsen ratings. The next two episodes will also air after “Walking Dead,” before the latter goes on hiatus until 2016, and the real test of “Badlands”’ audience will begin. Still, the network can comfortably pop some wheelies today.
AMC won’t have an official comment until ratings for Sunday night plus the next three days have been counted, as is standard procedure these days for many cable networks.