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AMC's 'Dead' Walking Tall

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Other than a bullet to the brain or the odd axe handle upside the noggin, it seems that nothing can stop AMC’s The Walking Dead.

The fall’s biggest buzzmaker scared up its best numbers Sunday night, as the fifth and penultimate episode of season one drew 5.56 million total viewers. The Nov. 28 installment of the zombie-apocalypse serial also put up its strongest demo performance, averaging 3.71 million viewers 18-49 and 3.31 million adults 25-54, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data.

Through the first five installments, The Walking Dead is averaging 5.09 million total viewers, making it far and away AMC’s most-watched original series. By comparison, season four of the critics’ darling Mad Men averaged 2.92 million viewers, while the even more compelling drama Breaking Bad delivered 1.52 million viewers per episode in its third season.

Once the live-plus-seven deliveries are accounted for, look for The Walking Dead to cover even more ground. When seven days of time-shifted viewing were thrown into the mix, the season opener averaged 4.54 million viewers 18-49, an increase of 27 percent from the 3.57 million members of the demo who tuned in on the premiere date (Oct. 31).

AMC on Nov. 8 announced it had ordered a 13-episode second-season flight of The Walking Dead, which is based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman. The season finale (“TS-19”) airs Sunday, Dec. 5 at 10 p.m. EST.

Since 2006, when AMC first began investing in original series programming, the network has boosted its ad sales revenue by 70 percent, to $280 million, per SNL Kagan data. Over the same five-year period, affiliate revenue has increased 23 percent to $282 million.