The Walking Dead Amc Season

Source: AMC Networks.

Well, that was fast. Not even two days after I predicted that Season 4 of The Walking Dead would set new ratings records for AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX), the zombie thriller set a new ratings record.

More than 16.1 million viewers tuned in for Sunday night's season premiere, including 10.4 million adults in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic. Aftershow Talking Dead also set new highs, attracting 5.1 million total viewers and 3.3 million adults in the key demo.

Impressed? You should be. Last year's premiere drew a then-record 10.9 million viewers, effectively forcing DISH Network to concede in a battle with AMC over distribution fees. 

"The dead have never been more alive," AMC President Charlie Collier said in a statement thanking both fans and the show's creators. Meanwhile, AMC Networks' stock ended Tuesday up about 3% on the The Walking Dead's impressive Season 4 debut.

Is the rally justified? Certainly. The Walking Dead is eating competitors. None of the major broadcast series drew as many viewers on Sunday night. Of them, CBS drama The Mentalist got closest with 9.4 million viewers, according to TV by the Numbers. Only football and the venerable news show 60 Minutes did better.

Between The Walking Dead and the series finale of Breaking Bad -- which attracted an astounding 10.3 million viewers -- AMC has become one of TV's most watched networks. Yet at a market cap of slightly less than $5 billion, AMC is just one-seventh the value of CBS, its closest comparable as a publicly traded entertainment empire. Don't expect that to last forever.

Do you agree? Are you watching The Walking Dead? What about other AMC shows? Let us know where you stand in the comments box below.

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