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New York — The Nielsen Company says the 17.3 million people who watched the fifth season opener of “The Walking Dead” Sunday is a record both for the show and for a cable television program.

Nielsen said that represented the biggest audience ever for a single non-sports program on cable TV. The AMC drama beat its previous record audience of 16.1 million for the fourth season opener last October.

“The Walking Dead” also had a staggering 11 million viewers among 18-to-49-year-olds, considered most valuable to advertisers. That beats every other scripted show on TV this season, with CBS’ premiere of “The Big Bang Theory” coming closest with 6.9 million in that demographic.

Those numbers will only increase when time-delayed viewership is counted in. The discussion show, “The Talking Dead,” had 6.9 million viewers.

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