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TV Ratings: 'The Walking Dead' Outperforms Winter Olympics

UPDATED: Going up against the games for the first time, the AMC drama is undeterred with a very strong midseason premiere -- besting NBC among adults 18-49.

The Walking Dead S4 EP 9 Carl with Zombies Episodic - H 2014
Gene Page/AMC

TV's reigning ratings champ kicked off its midseason run on Sunday night facing an unfamiliar foe: the Olympics. For the first time in its four-season run, AMC's The Walking Dead went head-to-head against the games and it lost no steam facing the stiff competition.  

AMC saw the midseason premiere of The Walking Dead deliver a whopping 15.8 million viewers. That comes in just a hair shy of the fall's record 16.1 million viewers.

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And while it may not have outperformed the Olympics in total viewers, it did win the night among adults 18-49. The Walking Dead matched its previous series high with 10.4 million in the key demo. That amounts to a 8.3 rating in the targeted demo. The Olympics have a 6.9 rating ahead of final returns.

These ratings, while no surprise for The Walking Dead, are a huge vote of confidence for the 4-year-old series -- which no one would fault for showing signs of fatigue at this point. By all counts, the steady return is basically even with previous series highs, and Olympic competition is bigger than even Sunday Night Football in some respects.

It's also worth noting the companion series The Talking Dead hit a new premiere high with 5.9 million viewers and 3.9 million adults 18-49.

The Walking Dead ratings timeline:

  • Season 4 midseason finale, Dec. 1, 2013: 12.1 million viewers, 7.7 million adults 18-49,
  • Season 4 premiere, Oct. 13, 2013: 16.1 million total viewers*, 10.4 million adults 18-49
  • Season 3 finale, March 31, 2013: 12.4 million total viewers*, 8.1 million 18-49*
  • Season 3 midseason premiere, Feb. 10, 2013: 12.3 million total viewers*, 6.8 million 18-49
  • Season 3 midseason finale, Dec. 2, 2012: 10.5 million total viewers, 6.9 million 18-49
  • Season 3 premiere, Oct. 14, 2012: 10.9 million total viewers, 7.3 million 18-49
  • Season 2 finale, March 18, 2012: 9 million total viewers, 6 million 18-49
  • Season 2 midseason premiere, Feb. 12, 2012: 8.1 million total, 5.4 million* 18-49
  • Season 2 premiere, Oct. 16, 2011: 7.3 million total, 4.8 million* 18-49
  • Season 2 midseason finale, Nov. 27, 2011: 6.6 million total, 4.5 million 18-49
  • Season 1 finale, Dec. 5 2010: 6 million total, 4 million 18-49
  • Season 1 premiere, Oct. 31, 2010: 5.4 million total viewers, 2.7 million 18-49

* Record at the time