The Walking Dead Breaks Ratings Records with 17.3 Million Viewers

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The season five premiere of “The Walking Dead” (read our recap) delivered the highest ratings in series history, AMC has just revealed. The episode was watched by 17.3 million viewers and 11 million adults aged 18-49, increases of 7% and 6%, respectively, over the season four premiere, the previous record-holder. “The Walking Dead” continues to be the #1 show on television among adults 18-49. Last night’s episode outperformed everything else on television in this key demographic, including Sunday Night Football, by over 2.5 million adults 18-49. With time-shifted playback, the season five premiere should exceed 22 million viewers.

“It’s a Dead man?s party. Who could ask for more?” said Charlie Collier, AMC president. “Enormous thanks to our friends and executive producers Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple, Greg Nicotero ? who also directed last night’s terrific premiere ? Gale Anne Hurd, Dave Alpert and Tom Luse and all of their fellow producers, cast and crew for everything they do to make the #1 show on television such a unique and incredible experience for the fans. ‘The Walking Dead’ is one of those increasingly rare shows today that can command a live audience not significantly cannibalized by time-shifted viewing. Who would have thought that cannibalized television could be curtailed by cannibal-ized television?”

The previous ratings record for an episode of “The Walking Dead” was 16.1 million total viewers and 10.4 million viewers 18-49 for the season four premiere, live/same day. With seven days of DVR playback included, the season four premiere delivered 21.1 million total viewers and 13.9 million adults 18-49, becoming the most highly-rated episode in cable television history.

“Talking Dead,” the live aftershow of “The Walking Dead,” also enjoyed record ratings last night, as its fourth season premiere on Sunday was the highest-rated premiere in series history with 6.9 million viewers and 4.5 million adults aged 18-49. That is an increase over last year’s premiere of 34% and 35%, respectively. Each week, “Talking Dead” features host Chris Hardwick and fans, actors, producers and other TV enthusiasts discussing that night’s “The Walking Dead” premiere. The premiere episode featured series’ showrunner and executive producer Scott M. Gimple, executive producer Greg Nicotero and Conan O’Brien.

AMC recently announced it has renewed “The Walking Dead” for a sixth season. The network has also ordered a pilot for a potential companion series to “The Walking Dead,” based on a new story and new characters from Robert Kirkman.