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‘The Walking Dead’ Ratings Rise With Controversial Episode

Sunday’s episode of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” which sparked an online frenzy when a popular character appeared destined for a bloody death, saw a ratings uptick. And perhaps not surprisingly, post-show “Talking Dead” soared to season highs.

According to Nielsen’s “live plus same-day” estimates, the zombie drama averaged a 6.8 rating in adults 18-49 and 13.1 million viewers overall — up 8% in both categories vs. the previous week. It was down slightly vs. the show’s third episode last fall (7.0 in 18-49, 13.8 million total viewers).

In “live plus-3” ratings, the second episode of this season’s “Walking Dead” rose to an 8.7 rating in 18-49 and 17.1 million total viewers, leaving it down from its premiere in this category by 14% and 12% respectively. It stood as television’s No. 1 primetime program of the week in the demo, ahead of even NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

Sunday’s “Talking Dead” shot up week-to-week by 49% in 18-49 rating (to. 3.1) and by 44% in total viewers (to 6.2 million). This was the No. 5-rated episode of the show to date, and the highest for any episode that wasn’t a premiere or a finale.

Next week is shaping up to be one of the biggest nights in memory for live viewing. The 90-minute episode of “Walking Dead” is going up against perhaps the best matchup of the season on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” (Green Bay and Denver are both undefeated) and a potential Game 5 of the World Series on Fox.

Variety spoke with “The Walking Dead” exec producer David Alpert about last Sunday’s episode, and whether the apparent death is a fake-out unlike anything the show has attempted before.

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