- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 15, 2013

NEW YORK — The zombies on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” are relentless. The series returned for its fourth season Sunday with its biggest audience ever and is easily the most popular drama on television among young viewers this season.

The 16.1 million people who watched the AMC series Sunday shattered the show’s previous record of 12.4 million, which was set for April’s final episode of the third season, the Nielsen company said.

An estimated 10.4 million of those viewers were aged 18 to 49, which is the demographic sweet spot for those who sell television advertising. No broadcast network drama came close. NBC’s “Blacklist,” with 3.9 million viewers in that demographic last week, came in second. The most popular broadcast drama so far this season was the Sept. 24 showing of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on ABC, with just under 6 million young viewers.

The discussion series that followed the premiere, “The Talking Dead,” had 5.1 million viewers with 3.3 million in the young demographic, Nielsen said.

AMC President Charlie Collier credited series creator Robert Kirkman and his deputies for the strong showing. “Thanks to them, the dead have never been more alive,” Collier said.

“NCIS” on CBS, with 18.3 million viewers, was the week’s most popular drama. Only 3.6 million of those viewers were in the young demographic, making the show less valuable to many advertisers.


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Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly made a strong debut in the network’s prime-time lineup last week. “The Kelly File” averaged 2.3 million viewers, or 38 percent more than Sean Hannity had been averaging in the 9 p.m. Eastern time slot since the beginning of July. Kelly was second only to Fox’s Bill O’Reilly in popularity on cable news last week.

Despite all the new fall programming, last week’s ratings indicated what truly rules in the season: five of the 13 most popular programs were either football games, football highlights shows or a football pregame show.

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