“The Walking Dead” returned bigger than ever in its season five premiere Sunday night on AMC, setting a series record with 17.3 million total viewers for the 9 p.m. airing, Deadline.com reports.
That number was up 7% from the previous record, the 16.1 million who turned out for the season four premiere. Additionally, Sunday’s program delivered 11 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, up 6% from 10.4 million a year ago.
“As it stands right now, the hourlong S5 opener ‘No Sanctuary,’ directed by EP Greg Nicotero, has scored a touchdown over the NFL, Fox’s football overrun and NBC’s ‘Sunday Night Football’ among the key demo to win prime time in both broadcast and cable,” the story reports. “That could change in the final numbers, as it did with last season’s debut, which eventually saw a slim ‘SNF’ win after what initially looked like a ‘WD’ victory.”
The report notes that the Sunday night NFL game was a blowout, with the Eagled trouncing the Giants 27-0, driving down the average turnout for the broadcast — and making a “Walking Dead” win over the typically unbeatable NFL more likely than it was last year.
“Last season, ‘The Walking Dead’ not only proved the most successful nonsports show on TV among the 18-49s but actually beat the NFL twice and the Winter Olympics three weeks in a row,” the report notes.