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‘Walking Dead’ Sets Record For Cable Drama Premiere

10/24/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

AMC and FX each drew frighteningly
strong ratings last week for their respective horror-themed
scripted series, The Walking Dead and American
Horror Story
.

The Oct. 16 sophomore season premiere of The
Walking Dead
at 9 p.m. averaged a 4.8 household
rating and 7.3 million total viewers over its 90-minute
run, according to Nielsen data.

The second-season premiere episode of the zombie-
tinged drama also set a cable scripted drama
season premiere record by drawing 4.8 million
viewers 18-49 and 4.2 million adults 25-54, breaking
the record formerly held by USA Network’s The
Dead Zone
.


Walking Dead
’s season two premiere, which kicked
off AMC’s annual Fearfest horror-themed programming
stunt, posted a 38% increase in total viewers
compared to the 5.3 million watchers exhumed for
the show’s premiere episode last October. The numbers
have shown AMC can draw large numbers of
viewers to a series, even as critical hits Mad Men and
Breaking Bad have averaged audiences more in the 2
million to 3 million range.

The Walking Dead is one of those rare television
programs that reaches both a core genre fan as
well as broad audiences simply looking for a great,
character-based story,” AMC president Charlie Collier
said in a release.

FX’s paranormal drama American Horror Story
continued to scare up viewers in its third week on
air. The Oct. 20 episode drew 2.59 million viewers,
an increase of 5% above its week two performance.

More importantly for FX, the show posted double-
digit increases in key demos, including adults
18-49 (12%), adults 18-34 (13%) and men 18-34
(28%).

The premiere episode of American Horror Story
delivered 3.2 million total viewers and 2 million
adults 18 to 49, on par with the debut of Nip/Tuck,
the other FX series from creators Ryan Murphy and
Brad Falchuk.

TV historian Tim Brooks said part of the success
of American Horror Story and The Walking Dead is
due to the popular horror genre’s migration into the
scripted-series format.

“It’s part of a larger trend of [content] moving away
from the reality realm into the scripted format,”
Brooks said. “Pretty soon, you’ll see zombies walking
all over the television schedule in the wake of these
shows being so successful.”

New York magazine, to that point, reported last
week that horror comedy Zombieland, a surprise boxoffice hit in 2009, is being developed as a TV series on
the Fox network, “with original writers Rhett Reese
and Paul Wernick on board.”

September