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The Walking Dead kicked off its fourth season on Sunday night — continuing the AMC series’ record-setting trend with more highs and blowing all nonsports competition out of the water.
Averaging 16.1 million viewers during its inaugural 9 p.m. broadcast, the series was up more than 5 million from last October’s 10.9 million opener. Among adults 18-49, The Walking Dead averaged 10.4 million viewers. That’s an 8.3 rating in the key demo, making it bigger than any broadcast series this fall and even stronger than last night’s competition from Sunday Night Football. With adults 25-54, The Walking Dead saw another high with 8.8 million viewers.
Compared to previous records set by the season-three finale, The Walking Dead was up 3.7 million viewers and 2.3 million adults 18-49.
This is the second huge ratings victory for AMC in just two weeks. The recent series finale of Breaking Bad smashed previous series records by jumping to 10.3 million viewers.
The return of the zombie drama, TV’s top scripted performer for a year now, was already evident in Fast National ratings from Sunday’s broadcast outings. Scripted competition in The Good Wife and The Mentalist hit their lowest ratings to date, while Once Upon a Time and Revenge sank to fall lows.
The Walking Dead has been even more of a force after time-shifting is taken into account. Though the series remains formidable in its Live+Same Day returns, seven days of DVR gave the last season an average 7.2 rating among adults 18-49 and 13.8 million viewers.
Companion series The Talking Dead also saw records. An average 5.1 million viewers tuned in, 3.3 million of them adults 18-49 and 3 million of them adults 25-54.
The Walking Dead ratings timeline:
- Season 3 finale, March 31: 12.4 million total viewers*, 8.1 million in 18-49*, 7 million in 25-54*
- Season 3 midseason premiere, Feb. 10: 12.3 million total viewers*, 6.8 million in 18-49, 6.7 million in 25-54*
- Season 3 midseason finale, Dec. 2: 10.5 million total viewers, 6.9 million in 18-49, 6 million in 25-54
- Season 3 premiere, Oct. 14: 10.9 million total viewers, 7.3 million in 18-49, 6.1 million in 25-54*
- Season 2 finale, March 18, 2012: 9 million total viewers, 6 million in 18-49, 5.3 million in 25-54*
- Season 2 midseason premiere, Feb. 12, 2012: 8.1 million total, 5.4 million* in 18-49, 4.4 million* in 25-54
- Season 2 premiere, Oct. 16, 2011: 7.3 million total, 4.8 million* in 18-49, 4.2 million* in 25-54
- Season 2 midseason finale, Nov. 27, 2011: 6.6 million total, 4.5 million in 18-49, 3.9 million in 25-54
- Season 1 finale, Dec. 5 2010: 6 million total, 4 million in 18-49, 3.5 million in 25-54
- Season 1 premiere, Oct. 31, 2010: 5.4 million total viewers, 2.7 million in 18-49
* Record at the time
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