AMC’s ‘Walking Dead’ Finale Draws 12.4 Million Viewers

AMC’s “The Walking Dead” drew a series record of 12.4 million viewers last night to its third-season finale, making it the most-watched entertainment show on broadcast and cable for the evening.

The program attracted 8.1 million viewers ages 18 to 49, a group targeted by advertisers, New York-based AMC Networks Inc. said today in an e-mailed statement. “The Walking Dead” is the most-watched show on TV among that demographic.

The “Walking Dead” ratings will lift advertising sales and fees from pay-TV systems for AMC, Benjamin Mogil, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co., wrote today in a report. Since the show began in September, AMC’s prime-time audience has climbed 7.3 percent and by 21 percent in the advertiser-targeted group, according to Nielsen data. Across basic cable, 18-to-49-year-old viewership has slid 3.1 percent this season.

“This continues to bode well for both first-quarter 2013 advertising and overall affiliate carriage discussions,” wrote Mogil, who rates the shares buy. Mogil forecasts AMC’s first quarter ad revenue will climb 4 percent.

The “Walking Dead’” audience will rise another 3 million viewers once three days of DVR viewing is added,the network said. AMC will begin airing the sixth season of “Mad Men” on April 7 with a two-hour episode.

AMC Networks fell 2.2 percent to $61.86 at the close in New York. The stock has climbed 25 percent this year.

Cable’s Night

The ratings victory capped a night of big audiences on cable television.

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” drew a series record 4.4 million viewers to the start of the show’s third season, according to Time Warner Inc.’s premium cable channel. The audience rose 13 percent from the second season’s premiere and exceeded the previous record of 4.2 million, set in the finale, New York-based HBO said today in an e-mailed statement.

On History, the two-hour finale of Mark Burnett’s “The Bible” drew 11.7 million viewers, a 14 percent gain from last week’s episode, the network said in an e-mailed statement. History is part of A&E Television Networks LLC, a joint venture of Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp.

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