With The Walking Dead scheduled to return to the airwaves this fall, once again the age old debate over whether it is bigger than Game of Thrones has returned. The Walking Dead began the same television season as Game of Thrones did, in the fall of 2010, on basic cable AMC. Game of Thrones bowed in the spring of 2011, albeit on paid cable. Since then, the two have grown from tiny little fire breathers to major ratings monsters upon whom the two channels ride.
So which one is bigger? Forbes looks at the numbers, and tries to answer this question. It’s little difficult in some cases, as AMC is a commercial based monetizing system, while HBO is subscriber based. But as they note, since Game of Thrones debut in 2011, HBO has gone from 81 million subscribers at the end of 2010 to 122 million. Tat’s almost 10% growth in subscribers every year since the show hit the air. The Walking Dead has had the same effect in advert rates, with AMC enjoying on average a 12% increase each year.
In rating’s numbers, The Walking Dead beats Game of Thrones handily, because of the basic versus pay cable advantage. After all, AMC is found in “roughly 94.8 million households.”
“The Walking Dead scores more Live+Same Day viewers thanks to its home on cable. Season six averaged 13.15 million real-time viewers and a whopping 6.48 rating in the key 18-49 demo. (Game of Thrones’ season finale scored a 3.9).”
But though Game of Thrones might lose in the Live+Same Day race, it more than makes up for in the “multiplatform views” like HBO Go and HBO Now.
The season six finale set a series high with 8.9 million Live+Same Day. However, when you factor in multiplatform views, the overall number soars upward like Drogon taking flight to 23.3 million, a 15% increase from season five. That’s a staggering figure that doesn’t even capture the whole picture as Game of Thrones became the most illegally downloaded show in history back in 2015.
And then of course, there’s the awards. In this, The Walking Dead doesn’t even stand a chance. Game of Thrones is poised to break the record for all time Emmy wins for a series at the Emmys this year, all it needs is to win *one* of its staggering 23 nominations haul. (And that’s down one from last year’s 24 nominations haul). The show has been nominated and won at the Golden Globes as well. Whereas The Walking Dead? It did pick up a Globe back in 2011, but since then, it’s just bee the occasional pat on the head nods for prosthetic work and visual effects. Most of which it loses to–you guessed it!–Game of Thrones.
With numbers like that, it’s hard to argue that AMC’s The Walking Dead is even playing in the same league as HBO’s Game of Thrones. But that won’t stop the Negan-Jon Snow cross over memes any time soon.