It's official: We love us some zombies in America.
Sunday night's Season 4 premiere of "The Walking Dead" on AMC earned the series its best-ever ratings with 16.1 million total viewers. And in the ever-important adults 18-to-49 demographic (which, like it or not, is the key metric networks use to compare shows and sell ad time), "TWD" beat all primetime programming, network and cable, for the week with 10.4 million viewers.
That means, yes, "The Walking Dead" was bigger than NBC's Sunday night NFL game between the Cowboys and Redskins (10.2 million viewers in the 18-49 demographic), along with CBS's huge hits "The Big Bang Theory" (6.5 million in 18-49) and "NCIS" (3.6 million in 18-49).
Now among total viewers, "Walking Dead" (16.1 million) did fall short of last night's NBC football game (19.7 million), as well as last week's "NCIS" (18.3 million) and "Big Bang" (17.6 million). But again, the 18-49 demo is more desirable than total viewers to networks and (most importantly) advertisers, since they remain convinced younger viewers are more likely to sample a new brand.
To put the ratings in even more perspective, "The Walking Dead" season premiere:
Topped everything all the networks aired on Friday night (Oct. 11), both in total viewers and the 18-49 demographic; Drew more than twice the number of total viewers (7.4 million) of cable reality hit "Duck Dynasty" on Wednesday; Drew more total viewers than hits "Modern Family," "Criminal Minds," "Survivor," Monday and Tuesday's episodes of "The Voice," "NCIS: LA," "Person of Interest," "Dancing With the Stars," "The Blacklist," and ESPN's Monday Night Football game.
In the fall TV season so far, no prime-time show has beaten "The Walking Dead" in the 18-49 demographic. Not even football.
"We could not be more proud of this show and everyone on both sides of the camera who work so hard to give life to this story of character, leadership and survival," Charlie Collier, president of AMC, said in a statement.
"It starts with series creator, writer and executive producer Robert Kirkman, show-runner and executive producer Scott Gimple and the director of last night’s episode (and the man behind the make-up) executive producer Greg Nicotero, their fellow executive producers and an extraordinary cast and crew who are giving their all every day. So clearly, thanks to them, the dead have never been more alive."
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC (though, as the ratings clearly prove, you already knew that).