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‘The Walking Dead’ premieres to 16M viewers

‘The Walking Dead’ premieres to 16M viewers

HIGH RATINGS: Cast members and producers of "The Walking Dead" take part in a panel discussion at AMC's TCA Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, California, Jan. 14 2012. Photo: Reuters/REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – AMC’s cult zombie horror series “The Walking Dead” drew its largest audience in the show’s history, 16.1 million viewers, for the season premiere on Sunday, the U.S. cable television network said on Monday.

According to Nielsen data provided by AMC, the hour-long season premiere was the top-rated show across all U.S. television programming on Sunday night in the 18-49 demographic, including NBC’s NFL “Sunday Night Football” game, which usually draws the largest viewership in the demographic.

Out of the 16.1 million viewers, 10.4 million were in the 18-49 age group most coveted by advertisers. The season three finale of “The Walking Dead” in March attracted a previous high of 12.4 million viewers, with 8.1 million in the 18-49 group.

“The Walking Dead” also went head-to-head against NBC’s primetime football game in much of the country, except for the West Coast. The football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins drew a total of 19.7 million viewers.

AMC said more than 5 million users discussed the season four premiere on Facebook and Twitter, and the episode generated more than 1.1 million tweets on Sunday.

“The Walking Dead,” based on a comic book series of the same name, follows a sheriff’s deputy as he tries to save survivors from flesh-eating zombies in a post-apocalyptic world.

AMC, owned by AMC Networks Inc., has been expanding its audience with stylized shows, such as period advertising drama “Mad Men” which drew a series high of 2.7 million in June this year, and the series finale of gritty drug drama “Breaking Bad,” watched by 10.3 million viewers last month.

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FILE- This is a 1967 handout image from Parlophone of The British group, The Beatles,. From left, are: Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney; and George Harrison. The woman who as a child was the basis for the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is gravely ill. It was thought by many at the time that the psychedelic song from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band was a paean to LSD because of the initials in the title, but it was actually based on a drawing that John Lennon's young son Julian brought home from school. He told his father the drawing was of Lucy in the sky with diamonds. Lucy Vodden, now living in Surrey just outside of London _ drifted apart after schoolyard days, but they have gotten back in touch as Lennon has tried to help Vodden cope with Lupus, a life-threatening disease.

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