DVR Playback Vaults ‘Walking Dead’ Ahead of ‘NCIS’ As Fall’s Most-Watched Drama Telecast

AMC’s megahit “The Walking Dead” has padded its already gaudy season-premiere totals with about 5 million viewers in just three days of DVR playback, according to Nielsen estimates, making the zombie skein the fall’s most-watched drama telecast on any network.

In “live plus same-day” numbers for last Sunday, the fourth-season opener of “Walking Dead” averaged an 8.7 rating in adults 18-49 and 17.29 million viewers overall — series and basic-cable records in both categories. But in “live +3” (viewership done via time-shifting within three days of a telecast), “Dead” surged to an 11.4 demo rating and 22.37 million total viewers.

Among all primetime programs this fall, only “The Big Bang Theory” (22.82 million) and “Sunday Night Football” (22.77 million) have drawn more total viewers in Live+3. “Walking Dead” moved ahead of CBS’ “NCIS” (21.52 million in L+3) after lagging the veteran crime drama in the same-night numbers.

In adults 18-49, the 11.4 towers over everything else to air in primetime this fall. Behind it on this list are the Sept. 28 game on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” between New Orleans and Dallas (8.7 rating), the season premiere of “The Big Bang Theory” (7.4 rating) and the hourlong season premiere of Fox’s “Family Guy” (5.9).

AMC’s post-show discussion series “Talking Dead” grew about 15% in all categories from L+ same-day to L+3, rising to a 4.0 rating in 18-49 and 7.78 million viewers overall. Its totals are up a big 35% vs. the comparable night a year ago.

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