As night must follow day and zombie must follow man, so too must the season premiere of The Walking Dead be followed by reports of shattered ratings records. This year the debut of the AMC’s show fifth season pulled in 17.3 million viewers, which is around a million more viewers than watched the fourth season premiere, the last time it was breaking records. Some 11 million of those were adults 18 to 49, giving it an 8.7 rating in that demo—and putting it in the running to be the most-watched television anything of the week.
As it stands now, The Walking Dead already eked out a win over NBC’s Sunday Night Football, and it’s the top-rated entertainment show among adults of the season, easily besting the 5.4 scored by the premiere of The Big Bang Theory. The episode also tied with the Sept. 28 Saints vs. Cowboys game to be the top primetime program in that demo this season. And in terms of total viewers, The Walking Dead is even right up there with CBS stalwart NCIS. In short, okay, they were probably smart to renew it.