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‘Sunday Night Football’ Crushes ‘Walking Dead’ Midseason Finale by 11 Million Viewers

AMC zombie drama grabbed 14 million total viewers; NBC’s primetime football game scorched that with 25.2 million

Sorry, zombies: Sunday night is still Football Night in America.

The weekend-ending midseason finale of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” bit off 14 million total viewers — up 6 percent from the prior week — but NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” scored 25.2 million. Impressively, the game marked the fifth “SNF” game this season with 25-plus million viewers. Who says live viewing is dead? (Answer: anyone without NFL programming.)

Episode 608 of “The Walking Dead” attracted 8.9 million total viewers from the all-important 18-49 demographic, good for a national rating of 7.02. In the older-shifted 25-54 demo, the pre-winter-break episode landed 8.6 million viewers. Both of those demos were also up 6 percent versus the previous week.

The big Denver Broncos-New England Patriots game earned an 8.5 in the main 18-49 demo, per fast national numbers. That translates to 10.8 million viewers. Read more about Sunday’s broadcast competition here; final national numbers for the contest are expected tomorrow.

At 10 p.m., the third episode of AMC’s “Into the Badlands” reached 5.2 million total viewers, up 7 percent from last week. In the key 18-49 demo, its 3.1 million viewers and 2.46 national rating is up 8 percent. The same viewer total among adults 25-54 jumped 12 percent.

To be fair to AMC, however, the cable channel (like many) does not report its Nielsen ratings until three-day delayed viewing numbers are available. “The Walking Dead” and “Into the Badlands” should rise far more than the live sporting event. Roughly, both scripted dramas should increase by about one-third or so in Live + 3 Day delayed viewing. That said, “Sunday Night Football” won’t be in any danger of losing its first-place claim even when those come in.

The gap between the top Sunday offerings will close even more when Live + 7 Day numbers become available.

Additionally, broadcast simply reaches more TV sets than cable does. Our final asterisk: primetime football has the benefit of an earlier start, which provides more potential tune-in. “The Walking Dead” has a 9 o’clock start.