NEW YORK — The zombies really know how to make an entrance.
AMC's "The Walking Dead" returned with an audience of 17.29 million people on Sunday, the Nielsen Co. said. That's a record for the series and, in fact, for any non-sports event on basic cable. It was easily the most-watched scripted series of the season for viewers ages 18 to 49, the demographic advertisers crave.
Only "NCIS," the most popular drama on television, beat it among scripted series last week — and only by a fraction.
Nielsen, which usually releases its weekly ratings on Tuesday, was delayed this week after the company revealed that a software error resulted in incorrect ratings information being released dating back to March. The company took extra time this week to make sure its numbers were correct and agreed to release the data to its clients — primarily television networks and advertisers — prior to the public, company spokeswoman Laura Nelson said Thursday.
Five of the 10 most popular programs on TV last week were either football games or football highlights.
The CW network had a strong week, with the premiere of its adventure series "Flash" reaching 4.8 million viewers.
CBS won the week in prime time, averaging 10.3 million viewers. NBC had 8.1 million viewers and won among the coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic. ABC had 7.1 million viewers, Fox had 5.5 million, Univision had 2.8 million, the CW had 2 million and ION Television and Telemundo tied with 1.1 million.
ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 3.05 million viewers in prime time. AMC had 2.35 million, TBS had 2.22 million, USA had 1.8 million and the Disney Channel had 1.71 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.6 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" was second with 8.2 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.2 million viewers.
For the week of Oct. 6-12, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia, NBC, 18.09 million; "NCIS," CBS, 17.3 million; "The Walking Dead," AMC, 17.29 million; "The Big Bang Theory," (Monday, 8 p.m.), CBS, 15.94 million; NFL Football: Indianapolis at Houston, CBS, 15.85 million; "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 15.41 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 14.82 million; "The OT," Fox, 14.56 million; NFL Football: Seattle at Washington, ESPN, 17.29 million; "The Voice," (Monday), NBC, 12.58 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. AMC is owned by AMC Networks.