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Zombies Devour Ratings Record! 7.3 Million for Walking Dead

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Lincoln as Rick Grimes. / AMC

Amid the off-season drama over AMC’s The Walking Dead—in which the network cut the series’ budget and ushered out showrunner Frank Darabont—hung the question: was the network going to, er, cannibalize its zombie drama and biggest commercial hit?

No, it turns out: the numbers are out for the show’s season 2 debut Sunday night, and it broke records for basic-cable dramas, with 7.3 million viewers for the first airing, 11 million overall and records in key demographic groups. (See Nate Rawlings’ recap of the season premiere.)

Which leads us to several possible conclusions: Budgets are overrated. Or we haven’t yet seen the fallout from the effects of budget cuts. Or showrunners are overrated. Or this particular show can handle a transfer of leadership because it’s based on an existing work. Or, simply: Zombies… good… viewers… crave… zombieeeeeeeess… [guttural moan]

Excerpts from the AMC announcement follow:

AMC’S “THE WALKING DEAD” DELIVERS THE STRONGEST TELECAST FOR ANY
DRAMA IN BASIC CABLE HISTORY AGAINST KEY DEMOS

SEASON TWO PREMIERE DELIVERS MORE ADULTS 18-49 AND ADULTS 25-54 THAN
ANY OTHER BASIC CABLE DRAMA IN TELEVISION HISTORY

4.8 MILLION VIEWERS ADULTS 18-49
4.2 MILLION VIEWERS ADULTS 25-54
7.3 MILLION TOTAL VIEWERS
11 MILLION TOTAL VIEWERS FOR THE NIGHT

New York – October 17, 2011 – Last night’s season two premiere of
AMC’s original series, “The Walking Dead” delivered the strongest
telecast for any drama in basic cable history. The season two premiere
delivered 4.8 million Adults 18-49 and 4.2 million Adults 25-54
shattering a basic cable record set nearly 10 years ago for a single
drama telecast. The program delivered a 4.8 HH rating netting 7.3
million total viewers. These results represent a 36% and 38% increase
respectively over season one’s series average on AMC. Season one’s
series average delivered the most A18-49 viewers for a drama in basic
cable history.

Key Nielsen Highlights for the season two premiere of The Walking Dead:

● 9pm airing – 4.8 HH rating with 7.3 million viewers a 36%/38%
increase respectively over last year’s season average
● 9pm airing – Adults 18-49 delivered 4.8 million viewers; a 36%
increase over last year’s season average
● 9pm airing – Adults 25-54 delivered 4.2 million viewers; a 35%
increase over last year’s average.
● 9 pm, 10:30pm and 12:30am airings – cumed to 11 million viewers

AMC’s season one of “The Walking Dead” had a series average of
3.5 million Adults 18-49 making it then the most watched drama series in
basic cable history for the demo. The season averaged 5.2 million total
viewers.

The Nielsen Company, Live+SD, M-Su 8p-11p (telecast level data,
originals, general drama program type, 1993- 10/16/2011) vs Season 1
average (Sunday 10pm 10/31 – 12/5/2011). Strongest telecast among
A18-49 and A25-54.

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