The Walking Dead is back tonight, and with it, I think, will come another round of record ratings for AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX). Here's why:

Source: Apple and the iTunes App Store.

You know when that's from? Monday. Nearly a week ahead of the Season 4 premiere, AMC was selling so many full-season passes to the show that it ranked on Apple's top-10 list for TV seasons. I'd call that crazy if it weren't so predictable.

Remember the term "Must See TV"? Years ago that was NBC's buzz phrase for Thursday night appointment television and hit shows such as Cheers, Frasier, Seinfeld, and Friends. These days, I think it describes the TV you're so addicted to that you're loath to trust a DVR to get it for you. You'd rather pay up for episodes and watch at your leisure.

That's a guess, of course. But think about what it means when Apple says that it serves 800,000 TV episode downloads daily. I think we can fairly conclude that a number of those downloads are from season-pass subscribers. TWD is already a sought-after property with these sorts of viewers.

Count me among them. After several aborted attempts to record the show via DVR -- the TV would "pop over" to record TWD just as my kids were watching something else -- I've signed up for an iTunes season pass. Now only I see the content, wherever and whenever I choose.

Last season's blockbuster ratings for The Walking Dead suggests I'm in the minority. A large portion is sure to watch live this season, too, and then tune in for Chris Hardwick's popular aftershow, Talking Dead. More than 3 million viewers were routinely tuning in by the end of last season.

Either way, the dead are walking (and conquering) again. Congratulations, AMC investors.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. How do you get your episodes of The Walking Dead? Tell us about it in the comments box below.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home and portfolio holdings, or connect with him on Google+Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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