'The Walking Dead' season 4 premiere ratings enormous

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Another The Walking Dead premiere.

Another all-time record.

Sunday’s zombie drama return delivered a huge 16.1 million viewers and an even-more-stunning 8.2 rating among adults 18-49. That’s up 30 percent in the demo from the show’s previous high (the season 3 finale).

The Walking Dead also once again has crushed the broadcast networks: This is the largest telecast of the fall in the adult demo, beating all entertainment shows. In fact, if you combine all the broadcast dramas that aired Sunday night — Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Betrayal, The Good Wife and The Mentalist — they still don’t match The Walking Dead‘s demo rating.

AMC claims the hour also has topped all sports telecasts this fall. That would be a rather enormous accomplishment (last fall The Walking Dead “only” beat all entertainment shows, not including sports). And that claim certainly appears to be accurate, at least if you define “fall” as the official start of the broadcast season in late September — some broadcast pre-season NFL games were higher than an 8.2. Also, we’re told last night’s Cowboys vs. Redskins telecast on NBC could possibly top The Walking Dead when its final national ratings are released tomorrow. Still, the very fact a cable network series is even in close contention for this claim is pretty incredible, as well as the show continuing to beat all the other entertainment programs.

“Sincere thanks to the fans, who have welcomed The Walking Dead back for its fourth season with the highest-rated episode in the show’s history,” said AMC President Charlie Collier.

Post-episode chat show The Talking Dead also set a record with 5.1 million viewers, including 3.3 million in the demo. EW has a must-read post-premiere Q&A with creator Robert Kirkman here. Our recap here.

UPDATE: NBC’s football game came in at an 8.4 vs. Walking Dead‘s 8.2. As I suspected, AMC’s sports claim didn’t hold up. STILL: Amazing. In fact, this is the highest-rated entertainment program on TV since Ashton Kutcher debuted on CBS’ Two and a Half Men in 2011 (I know, that sort of sounds like it takes something away from it, but it’s really quite impressive).

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