The Walking Dead still has a lot of life in it

2016-10-26 15:30

New York — It's hard to miss the message from the season premiere of The Walking Dead: blood pays off.

The gory episode of the popular AMC drama was seen by just over 17 million viewers on Sunday night, the Nielsen company said. That left it short of the 2014 season premiere of 17.3 million for most-watched episode of the series ever, but AMC believes that when additional digital and delayed viewing is added in, this season's opener will be the all-time champ.

When last season's opener drew 14.6 million people, there were whispers that The Walking Dead was fading in appeal. But a good, old-fashioned cliffhanger — who did Negan kill? — paid off handsomely in interest.

Among the 18-to-49-year-old audience that advertisers love, The Walking Dead reached 10.7 million people. Prior to Sunday night, the season's most-watched scripted show among that youthful demographic was the 6.5 million who saw the season premiere of The Big Bang Theory.

Even for a zombie apocalypse program not known for its gentility, Sunday's episode stood out for blood 'n' guts. Avert your eyes, those who haven't seen it and don't want their anticipation spoiled: Negan bludgeons Abraham and Glenn with a spiked baseball bat.

Come to think of it, you might want to avert your eyes anyway.

The episode "was one of the most graphically violent shows we've seen on television, comparable to the most violent of programs found on premium cable networks," said Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council.

AMC's postgame show, Talking Dead, had its biggest-ever audience among people wanting to dissect the opener.

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