The Season 4 premiere of “The Walking Dead” scored an astonishing 16.1 million total viewers and 10.4 million viewers in the key 18-49 demographic, demolishing its former records and remaining television’s highest-rated series in the demo.
The AMC zombie series is on track to remain the most watched non-NFL programming this season among 18-49-year-old viewers. Last year, “The Walking Dead” was the first cable series to be the top non-sports show in the demo. It was second only to NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” in demo ratings. In total viewers, the show was also topped last season by CBS’s “NCIS.”
The zombies beat NBC’s NFL coverage in the demo Sunday: It had an 8.2 rating to the 7.3 for “SNF.” But football won in total viewers with 19.7 million.
The Season 4 premiere numbers were way up from the 10.9 million viewers for the Season 3 premiere, and the show’s all-time record of 12.4 million total viewers for the Season 3 finale.
The numbers mean plenty of people watched the zombies in real time for the first-time ever. They joined Rick Grimes and his band of survivors as they look for a more normal life behind prison gates, surrounded by walkers.
Sunday’s “Talking Dead” aftershow also hit a premiere high, scoring 5.1 million total viewers, 3.3 million of them in the 18-49 demographic.
“Sincere thanks to the fans, who have welcomed ‘The Walking Dead’ back for its fourth season with the highest-rated episode in the show’s history,” said AMC President Charlie Collier. “We could not be more proud of this show and everyone on both sides of the camera who work so hard to give life to this story of character, leadership and survival. It starts with series creator, writer and executive producer Robert Kirkman, show runner and executive producer Scott Gimple and the director of last night’s episode (and the man behind the make-up) executive producer Greg Nicotero, their fellow executive producers and an extraordinary cast and crew who are giving their all every day. So clearly, thanks to them, the dead have never been more alive.”
AMC decided last season to replace showrunner Glen Mazzara, who led the show to first place in the demo, with Gimple. The numbers mean Gimple got to debut with the show’s best outing yet.