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'The Walking Dead' returns strong with mid-season premiere

By Patrick Kevin Day

2:52 PM CST, February 10, 2014

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The shambling zombies of the "Walking Dead" had the spry athletes of the Sochi Winter Olympics to compete with on Sunday night, but just like on the show, the dead overpowered the living with their sheer numbers. "The Walking Dead" came back for the second half of its fourth season with a total audience of 15.8 million viewers.

That isn't a series high, but it's close. Viewership of the mid-season premiere, "After," written by "Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman, was down just slightly from the 16.11 million viewers who watched the show's fourth season premiere in October.

AMC estimates that when time-shifted DVR viewers are added in, the mid-season premiere will have a total audience of more than 20 million.

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In the key demographic of adults ages 18 to 49, "The Walking Dead" was the top-rated program of the night, with 10.4 million viewers. It beat the Sochi Winter Olympics on NBC in that demographic, though the Olympics still had a higher overall audience of 25.4 million.

The audience of "The Walking Dead" even seems to be warming to the Chris Hardwick-hosted live aftershow, "Talking Dead." That show, which airs immediately after "Walking Dead," drew 5.9 million viewers, down slightly from the 6.02 million who watched the mid-season finale episode of "Talking Dead," but still the highest premiere rating to date.

And, as ever, the show was the most-discussed program on Twitter on Sunday, with 1.24 million "Walking Dead"-related tweets sent.

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