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The Walking Dead ratings: Season 6 premiere beats NFL football

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Gene Page/AMC

A huge audience returned to AMC Sunday to watch the zombies  — but not a record audience.

The season 6 debut of The Walking Dead averaged an impressive 14.6 million total viewers and a 7.43 rating among adults 18-49, says Nielsen, but that’s down from the drama’s premiere episode a year ago when it made the history books with 17.3 million eyeballs and an 8.65 rating.

Nevertheless, the AMC drama still scared up enough viewers Sunday to make it the night’s No. 1 program, besting NFL football on NBC. The zombies were a big hit on Twitter and Facebook, too.

AMC will release results from delayed viewing on Friday.