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AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ season 3 opens with record 10.9 million viewers

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AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” shot mostly in Senoia, is drawing plenty of live viewers: a whopping 10.9 million last night for the season three debut, the most for any basic cable scripted drama telecast ever.

The 7.4 million 18-49 viewers was more than what “The Voice,” “Modern Family” or “The Big Bang Theory” typically draw. In fact, it’s drawing more among younger viewers than any other scripted TV show.

It was by far the most viewers for any “Walking Dead” episode and is up 50 percent from last year’s season 2 debut.

Even more impressively, the show was able to garner such huge numbers without Dish Network customers, which number about 14 million households. AMC and Dish have been in a months-long dispute over fees and an unrelated lawsuit.

Glen Mazzara,
a producer for the show, discussed the first episode with press today.

He discussed how over the six months that elapsed since we last saw them, they had become a tight-knit zombie fighting machine. The wordless opening scene reflected this cohesion, like a military unit embedded in a foreign country.

“They really don’t care about anyone else,” Mazzara said. “Anyone else could threaten their survival.”

He also wants viewers to root for them. So when Maggie figures out how to kill the zombies in riot gear with a look of delight or when Rick smiles on the guard tower after mowing down dozens of walkers, “they have wins. It’s important for the group to have wins. So when they suffer losses, it’s that much more devastating.”

Mazzara also addressed the issue of the “lurker” zombie who bit (SPOILER ALERT) Herschel when it appeared he was truly dead. He said that has come up before in other episodes and will come up again. It’s simply the way zombies in thsi world work. These lurkers are too weak to walk around but given the whiff of human flesh, will rouse themselves for the big bite.

Future episodes this season, he said, “may not have as many zombie killings per episode. But the scope of what this cast and crew and entire production outfit can do is pretty staggering. We have this one episode in the back half of the season that’s just huge and could play as a season finale. But it’s just an episode of the week. I’m really impressed with the level of film-making this crew in Georgia can provide every week. It’s fantastic. We just write big. They get it done. Very very few times we’ve been asked to pull back because we can’t do it.”

He said the prison will hardly be a sanctuary the way Herschel’s farm seemed to be last season (to the chagrin of some critics). “It will not be an issue at all,” he promises.

One reporter asked whether we’ll learn more about the science behind going zombie. He said no. “People have very limited information,” he said. “It’s about what to do with the limited information. We have characters trying to figure out the nature of the virus. We introduce a character named Milton who will be part of the Governor’s crew who is trying to solve the walker problem. But he’s not a scientist. It’s really about people with no answers trying to make due.”

Mazzara said the time jump was necessary to get Lori closer to birth and get them past the winter. Given that the shooting schedule is during the summer, he noted, it would have been a stretch to pretend it was 30 degrees outside. He is planning no flashbacks to fill people in on the past few months.

The group, he noted, has done some cross-skill training so Carol has learned some basic medical information from Herschel. “Her first patient is going to be Herschel,” he said. “She’s in immediately over her head.”

He also said some episodes will focus almost exclusively on the prison while others will be more about Woodbury. Some episodes Michonne may not even appear. He even said Rick may not appear in all 16 episodes.

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90 comments Add your comment

GARY TANCREDI

October 15th, 2012
4:22 pm

10.9 MILLION WATCHED WHILE 304 MILLION DID NOT. HOW’S THIS CONSIDERED GOOD?!

Rodney Ho

October 15th, 2012
4:23 pm

@Gary Tancredi. No TV show draws more than 20 million viewers nowadays (”NCIS”). Some football games still draw huge numbers but otherwise, 10.9 million is considered huge in the world of TV today.

The Walking Saban

October 15th, 2012
4:26 pm

I think the ratings were so high, in part, because the treatment for Herschel’s leg injury is an excellent example of what will happen to basic medical attention once 0bamaCare is fully implemented.

Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me if that socialist-medicine program was responsible for the Zombie Virus outbreak & resulting Apocalypse in the first place.

ROLL TIDE !

Czar

October 15th, 2012
4:29 pm

Ad that’s not 10.9 million viewers. It’s 10.9 million households/television. Who knows how man people were sitting behind each television set watching? Just something to think about.

The Walking Saban

October 15th, 2012
4:29 pm

“THE WALKING DEAD” is a much better show than “M*A*S*H” ever was, with apologies to Alan Alda.

I already do not like this ‘The Governor’ character.

VC

October 15th, 2012
4:31 pm

Awesome!!!!!! I love this show, and last night was worth the wait. Only thing is Michonne so does not fit in. Rick may not appear in all 16 episodes? Are you kidding me? He is the man!!!!

Dawgfaithful

October 15th, 2012
4:32 pm

Gary Tancredi,

You must be a F***ing moron. You’re whats wrong with America today. Too many ignorant dumbasses.

Gary

October 15th, 2012
4:32 pm

10.9 million may be considered a big number by you, Rodney since there are so many viewer choices, but what it says to me is that the vast majority of viewers find this show an absurd waste of time that appeals to a very limited, albeit fanatical audience. Lets not give the program more credit than it deserves.

Dawgfaithful

October 15th, 2012
4:36 pm

No Gary,

10.9 million is considered a big number by everyone. F***ing dumbass. The vast majority of viewers WERE watching the show. Don’t you get it? More households watched this show than any other BY FAR. You might think it’s a waste of time but at least 10.9 million families didn’t.

Circle R

October 15th, 2012
4:40 pm

Aaaannnnd, right wing political BS in 3, 2, 1…he shoots, he scores! Nice work, Saban. Idiot.

Rodney Ho

October 15th, 2012
4:41 pm

@Gary . 10.9 million is a big number by any measure in TV land, not just by me. Ask any TV executive. You can make the same argument about EVERY TV show. No show ever gets a “vast majority of viewers.” Even the Super Bowl is ignored by half of America.

Taylor

October 15th, 2012
4:44 pm

This is just live viewers. Don’t forget about on demand TiVo online plus like someone else said there could be 4 viewers per household

[...] 3 premiere devours cable ratings recordsZap2it.com (blog)Hollywood Reporter -Variety -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 928 news [...]

Dawgfaithful

October 15th, 2012
4:45 pm

What’s your favorite show Gary? If ratings should be ignored, what do you use to measure the popularity of your favorite show? Idiot.

Tundra Dude

October 15th, 2012
4:47 pm

Walking Saban,.. keep politics out of this discourse. We’re talking about a make believe Apocalypse here,..why can’t you just enjoy the program, without playing the blame game.

Dawgfaithful

October 15th, 2012
4:47 pm

Taylor,

Don’t even go there with the Tivo and OnDemand. There is no way this Gary dumbass knows what that is. It’s a concept that is way to complex for that brain to process. Have you read his comments?

Bob

October 15th, 2012
4:48 pm

Another great thing about this astonishing, near-brilliant show (re: the Obamacare comment) is that it attracts both hardcore conservatives and Progressive Liberal wildly Democrat profound Obama supporters (like me). It seems to be one of those rare cultural phenoms that so many from otherwise polar opposite sides can agree upon.

gojackets

October 15th, 2012
4:50 pm

@Dawgfaithful: It’s probably Honey Boo Boo.

Johnny

October 15th, 2012
5:02 pm

It was a great episode.

How are ratings even tallied? To me ‘ratings’ are crap numbers. Do these rating number count for how many TVs in the same household are watching the same episode? Do they account for MythTV DVRs or even junky subscriber DVRs? If they’d post their episodes online, do those get tallied also?

Gary's brother

October 15th, 2012
5:06 pm

You guys are morons. 10.9 million households is not a big number. It’s also not a big deal that some guy broke the speed of sound jumping from a balloon. Think about how fast light travels. It’s WAAAAY faster than that guy was. Also, so what if Bill Gates is worth 61 billion dollars? That a tiny amount compared to ALL the money in the world. And so what if you own a 5,000 sq. ft. house? Think about all the square feet in the world. Your living space is TINY compared to that! Oh, Gary and I just owned you guys with our knowledge. High five, Gary!

Gary

October 15th, 2012
5:07 pm

DawgFaithful, you need to watch your language, especially with your lack of logic skills. The show may have been watched by 10.9 million viewers, but more than 300 million did not watch the show. Which is the bigger number? 10.9 or 300. You do know the answer right? Thirty times more peple were watching something else than were watching your little show. Deal with it.

Rodney Ho

October 15th, 2012
5:11 pm

@Gary It’s all relative, as your brother below points out. Every show’s ratings is pathetic if you look at it compared to the entire U.S. population. But compared to every other TV show out there (and there are hundreds), “The Walking Dead” is in pretty rarified air. Breaking 10 million in this day and age is a big deal. And that doesn’t even count DVR usage, repeats or online viewing.

Gary

October 15th, 2012
5:13 pm

Rodney, just because TV executives say it is a big number doesnt make it so. They are interested in selling ads and comparing to other shows. That was not my point. My point remains that despite how big that number looks to AMC and to yourself, the vast majority of viewers did *not* watch the show. Surely you agree with that.

goTigers

October 15th, 2012
5:15 pm

replies from idiots are here just for amusement. so just read on and don’t let it bother you.
I was wondering if the show and AMC now get to charge big $$$ for commercials and ad time now that the show has proven a HIT. Wonder if that trickles down to the small biz guys around the set and the crew who work hard to put this together. Folks – just face it – this is a big win for Senoia and the Atlanta area. Lots of people and small companies win. These are hard times. Be thankful that a local production is successful and produces honest work for a lot of people (even the zombies) who would not have it otherwise. Go Dead!!! Walking Dead rocksssssssssss!!!!!!!!!

Rodney Ho

October 15th, 2012
5:17 pm

@Gary. Yes, you are 100% right. But that’s the case of every TV show, every movie, virtually any entertainment out there. Nothing draws massive numbers anymore, short of perhaps the Super Bowl and the occasional blockbuster film. We live in a splintered entertainment world, where options are nearly endless. But “The Walking Dead” is shot locally and is a very profitable show for AMC. Good for them and worthy of me to write about as a TV blogger. You have the right to pooh pooh the show. It’s your right. And 290 million other people, too, are blissfully living without it as well.

Dave

October 15th, 2012
5:18 pm

Gary, don’t assume that everybody in the U.S. has cable. The fact is that the television audience in this country is nowhere near 300 million people. So many people cut the cord and use netflix, hulu or purchases episodes online from amazon or itunes. They were also not available in about 15 million households thanks to the dispute with Dish. The fact is that most broadcast networks would kill for 11 million viewers. The typical cable show usually ranges from 2-6 million viewers. So for a cable channel to get 11 million is out of this world good.

Gary

October 15th, 2012
5:21 pm

Rodney, I have just conducted my own independent survey here at work. Only one out of 31 fellow employees watched this program, 25 had not even heard of it. Realize this is not scientific, but people working here represent a varied demographic of 18 up to 65 years old. I fall in between.

David

October 15th, 2012
5:25 pm

In my opinion, the show is great because it provokes thought in alot of ways. It is survival of the fittest and portrays man and his almost forgotten primitive instincts. Only the strong can lead. (2 alpha males collide in Rick and Shane). The women gravitate towards a strong male for security and protection(Lori confused about Rick and Shane). Dale was a pain in the ass. Rick was stupid for going after everybody that went missing. As far as entertainment value, this show is right up there with Game of Thrones.

Gary

October 15th, 2012
5:27 pm

I understand about the hundreds of choices, but that further makes my point. This program draws its numbers because it has a cult following. All I’m saying is that the vast number of viewers, including myself, dont find a show about zombies particularly entertaining, no matter how well done it is. I congratulate Atlanta on hosting a popular cult program, all I am saying is take the numbers with a grain of salt. This program will never be a big popular hit as was emplied by the comparison to M*A*S*H. In ten years, one million viewers may mean a show is a hit, does that really mean most people want to watch it? No.

mel

October 15th, 2012
5:31 pm

Gary must work for DISH.

F U Dish

October 15th, 2012
5:31 pm

Big Thanks to Dish Network for not allowing any of its customers to catch the premier…Guess we’ll catch it on Netflix next summer.

Dave

October 15th, 2012
5:34 pm

Gary, no program today will ever pull in the numbers that MASH did. How many channels were there to choose from back then??? Even the most critically acclaimed show today won’t draw anywhere near 10% of the population.

Dean

October 15th, 2012
5:35 pm

to England 10.9 is massive, however to america and taking into consideration the size of the country, 10.9 is not very good at all.

Ryan

October 15th, 2012
5:38 pm

Gary, you can’t compare number of viewers back then with now. Back then, most people only had 3 channels to watch, no one had internet, or home gaming machines, or DVD players, heck not even VHS players. M*A*S*H was a big fish in a tiny pond.

Thrash

October 15th, 2012
5:40 pm

We should adapt the same attitude and tactics killing terrorists.

Dave

October 15th, 2012
5:45 pm

Ryan is dead on. Any show would draw huge numbers if there were only 2 other channels competiting against you.

Deirdre

October 15th, 2012
5:49 pm

I watched the show on my dvr this morning! It is SO good and I think the ratings are terrific despite the fact that Gary continues to ignore logic and insists that, because the majority of people in this country didn’t watch the show, that makes the ratings unimpressive. However, for the tv execs, the ratings are very impressive and since they’re the ones who count, then it really makes no difference what the rest of us think.

I find WD to be enormously entertaining and very well done.

Solid Ratings

October 15th, 2012
5:57 pm

I can see how people do not think 10.9 mil is very impressive. However, if you take into account it was on AMC (not a major network…NBC, CBS, ABC) , it is a very good number. Keep in mind it wasn’t the season finale.

Compare it to these finales:

65 Desperate Housewives 11.9 9.0% 14% 13 May 2012 ABC
66 3rd Rock from the Sun 11.9 7.9% 13% 22 May 2001 NBC
67 The Sopranos 11.9 6.5% 11% 10 June 2007 HBO
68 Empty Nest 11.6 8.7% 17% 29 April 1995 NBC
69 Ally McBeal 11.5 7.5% 11% 20 May 2002 Fox
70 Homicide: Life on the Street 11.4 8.4% 15% 21 May 1999 NBC
71 Without a Trace 11.2 7.3% 12% 19 May 2009 CBS
72 The Nanny 11.1 8.1% 14% 12 May 1999 CBS
73 Picket Fences 11.1 8.2% 14% 24 April 1996 CBS
74 The Practice 10.9 7.5% 13% 16 May 2004 ABC
75 Walker, Texas Ranger 10.8 6.8% 13% 19 May 2001 CBS
76 Judging Amy 10.8 7.6% 12% 3 May 2005 CBS
77 Sex and the City 10.6[104] ? ? 22 February 2004 HBO
78 Becker 10.6 7.3% 11% 28 January 2004 CBS
79 Grace Under Fire 10.5 7.4% 11% 17 February 1998 ABC
80 Highway to Heaven 10.5 7.1% 16% 4 August 1989 NBC
81 Melrose Place 10.4 7.3% 12% 24 May 1999 Fox
82 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman 10.2 6.7% 15% 16 May 1998 CBS
83 Sisters 10.1 7.1% 14% 4 May 1996 NBC
84 The West Wing 10.1 6.2% 10% 14 May 2006 NBC
85 That ’70s Show 10.0 6.0% 10% 18 May 2006 Fox
86 Boy Meets World 10.0 6.1% 12% 5 May 2000 ABC
87 Cold Case 10.0 6.4% 11% 2 May 2010 CBS
88 Boston Legal 9.9 6.2% 10% 8 December 2008 ABC
89 Ellen 9.9 7.1% 11% 13 May 1998 ABC
90 Wizards of Waverly Place 9.8[105] ? ? 6 January 2012 Disney Channel
90.1 The Closer 9.8 7.1% 11% 13 August 2012 TNT
91 The District 9.7 6.6% 12% 1 May 2004 CBS
92 The Unit 9.6 5.8% 10% 10 May 2009 CBS
93 Monk 9.4[106][107] 5.5% 9% 4 December 2009 USA Network
94 A Different World 9.3 6.6% 14% 8 May 1993 NBC
95 Nash Bridges 9.1 6.3% 12% 4 May 2001 CBS
96 The Pretender 9.0 6.2% 12% 13 May 2000 NBC
97 Third Watch 9.0 6.1% 11% 6 May 2005 NBC
98 24 8.9[108] 5.2% 8% 24 May 2010 Fox
99 Star Trek: Voyager 8.8 5.5% 9% 23 May 2001 UPN
100 Martin 8.6 5.8% 11% 1 May 1997 Fox
101 NewsRadio 8.6 6.5% 11% 4 May 1999 NBC
102 Moonlighting 8.6 5.7% 10% 14 May 1989 ABC
103 Numb3rs 8.3 5.1% 9% 14 May 2010 CBS
104 Ed 8.2 5.8% 10% 6 February 2004 NBC
105 Caroline in the City 8.1 6.3% 10% 26 April 1999 NBC
106 Las Vegas 8.0 5.0% 9% 15 February 2008 NBC
107 Cosby 7.9 5.2% 10% 28 April 2000 CBS
108 Law & Order 7.8 5.1% 9% 24 May 2010 NBC

DVR Numbers

October 15th, 2012
6:00 pm

Wait until the DVR numbers are added to the total viewer numbers….

Fred ™

October 15th, 2012
6:06 pm

Just ignore the Gary troll. When he stops receiving attention the asshat will leave. He’s just sad because Rush isn’t on right now to tell him what to think………..

Fred ™

October 15th, 2012
6:08 pm

Just make sure you call Gary when your toilet is stopped up………

http://www.tancrediplumbing.com/Gary-Tancredi.html

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

Website Design Police

October 15th, 2012
6:38 pm

Trancredi you are charged with crimes against website design and a website reflecting the business behind it. You have the right to a professional designer and not a DIY kit. You most deffffff have the right to be silent (esp if your website is anything to go by as a reflection of your business). Anything you do say will be used against you (and probably just ignored).

Anyhoo, Tancredi and gary and whoever else dishes the show… inspite all your negativity.. the show at least served one purpose… to get you to spend time on this wall to post comments about it. So while you might not watch it you certainly are talking about it and are aware of the show. Alas like people said before TV shows now in a competition with 100s of other shows. 100s of other channels. Back in the stone ages (probably also when that website was built) there was hardly no competition and hence average shows like mash were forced onto more viewers than the choices we have today.

Now chill your beans. Go learn flash or html or anything more interesting than sub-standard comments. Peace out.!

Ex-X-Files Fan

October 15th, 2012
6:42 pm

The vastly disproportionate number of caucasian zombie inmates in that prison, especially a penitentiary in a State with the demographic makeup of convicted felons such as that of Georgia, made last night’s episode overly unrealistic (relatively speaking) and forced local viewers to suspend disbelief further than normal, well above and beyond the concept of “zombies” itself.

StupidGary

October 15th, 2012
7:21 pm

Gary works for dish so he can downplay screwing over his customers like me from watching.

Tap Out

October 15th, 2012
8:29 pm

To Ex-X-Files Fan…..it was a prison for pedophiles and serial killers…that explains the disproportionate number you’re referring too. Now you can watch the entire episode without suspending “disbelief”.

ncexnyc

October 15th, 2012
8:33 pm

Now I know we are supposed to suspend reality when we view a show like this, but I would appreciate consistency with the storyline and the facts they give us.
If the walkers stink and they appear to be in various states of decomposition, why is it after all these months the vast majority of these walkers haven’t disolved into nothingness? Last night a mask was ripped off the face of a walker and it’s flesh came off as if liquified. I know we are going for a high gore factor with this show, but at least they writers should stick to what they outline as the rules of how this world goes.
I thought the new episode was very solid, a few minor glitches, such as how everyone is a crack shot from several hundred yards away, scoring headshot after headshot on moving targets. And while I understood how we jumped several months ahead, the Andrea/Michonne storyline just seemed to be thrown in as an after thought. Andrea while appearently sick seemed to be just as helpless as when Michonne found her at the end of last season, though there was some dialogue that suggested during the hiatus Andrea had proven herself to Michonne.
Despite these minor issues I’ll continue to watch, keep up the great work AMC, you are giving us some very solid TV with all of your Sunday shows.

Dang Good Dawg

October 15th, 2012
8:55 pm

I absolutely love this show!

However, my girlfriend refuses to watch it with me anymore. She says it gives her bad dreams and that some of the zombies are uglier than Michelle 0bama.

I guess that is what helps make it so lifelike and suspenseful for fans.

pseawrightb

October 15th, 2012
8:58 pm

This episode rocked! I can’t wait for the rest of the season.

BTW. can’t get to three comments without reading some crank whining about politics. Aaaargh!

ModdyD

October 15th, 2012
9:00 pm

Did Gary successfully troll everyone or is he just a dumbass? Gary’s argument is the inverse of argumentum ad populum.