AMC's 'Walking Dead' shatters cable ratings record, even beats NFL football

Amid the ongoing wave of pay-TV consolidation, AMC Networks has been widely viewed, at least in zombie apocalypse terms, as a lone survivor that badly needs to merge with a larger, more fortified group of programmers.

But the audience drawing power of its assets can't be denied. Sunday night's fifth-season premiere of The Walking Dead broke the show's own record as the most-watched cable drama ever, garnering an audience of 17.3 million viewers. The previous record of 16.1 million viewers was set during the show's fourth season.

The 9 p.m. Walking Dead telecast even bowled over NFL Sunday Night Football by nearly 2.5 million viewers in the adults 18-49 demographic, scoring an audience of 11 million in the demo.

The show's recap extension, Talking Dead, also hit its high-water mark with 6.9 million viewers.

AMC, which is getting set to wind down its other tentpole series, Mad Men, is in the process of developing a Walking Dead spinoff.

For more:
- read this New York Times story
- read this Deadline Hollywood story

Related links:
Cable networks AMC, Discovery, others face hard times, analyst says
WSJ report: Pay-TV mergers will trigger media consolidation
AMC goes the DIY route to replace 'Mad Men' and 'Breaking Bad'
'Breaking Bad' boosts AMC Networks' third quarter earnings

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