11:35am PT by Mikey O'Connell
'The Walking Dead' Just Dethroned 'High School Musical's' Ratings Record
By most standards, Sunday's return of The Walking Dead was the biggest thing to happen to TV so far this fall -- with the obvious exception of the NFL. But with three days of DVR viewing now factored in, it turns out the season four premiere now stands as the most watched nonsports broadcast in cable history.
Nielsen's Live+Three Day returns for The Walking Dead tick the total viewership up by more than four million viewers to a whopping 20.2 million. That's 2 million viewers north of the previous Live+Three record-setter, High School Musical 2.
Disney Channel's 2007 telepic, the juggernaut franchise's last TV entry before segueing into a theatrical release, brought in 17.2 million viewers in its original telecast. Set in less DVR-centric days, it still stands as a record for Live+Same Day viewing. The audience rose by 1 million viewers in Live+Three, bringing it to 18.2 million.
Among adults 18-49, an arena The Walking Dead has had locked up for some time now, the episode improved by 2.8 million viewers. That puts it at 13.2 million viewers in the key demo before final Live+Seven Day returns are even in. That's a 10.6 rating, 1.4 points ahead of NBC's most recent outing of Sunday Night Football.