Whether you liked it or not, you probably tuned in to The Walking Dead's Season 7 premiere Sunday night.
Seventeen million viewers watched the cliffhanger-resolving premiere, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which basically ties the Season 5 premiere from 2014. About 17.2 million people watched the bloodbath at Terminus, but in this era of declining year-over-year ratings and time-shifted streaming, the near-tie proves that The Walking Dead is still must-see TV for a large swath of the population.
The Walking Dead's season premiere earned an 8.4 rating in the adults 18-to-49 demographic advertisers are obsessed with, topping the 6.0 Sunday Night Football pulled in. It's also double the second highest-rated premiere this season, Empire's Season 3 premiere, which is the top-rated scripted series on network television. It's not the highest-rated ever episode of The Walking Dead, though, which is still the Season 5 premiere.
Viewership was up 16 percent percent from the Season 6 premiere and 20 percent from the finale. The numbers prove that from a ratings perspective the cliffhanger worked. People watched live to find out who Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) killed.
Talking Dead, the live discussion post-show, got a boost from The Walking Dead's big numbers, garnering 7.6 million viewers and a 3.7 demo rating, which also makes the Chris Hardwick-hosted chat more popular than any network scripted drama.
The Walking Dead has already been renewed for an eighth season.