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The Walking Dead: Huge return cements its status as appointment TV

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The Walking Dead scored near record ratings on Sunday night, dominated the competition, and cemented the show’s elite status in the television landscape.

The season 7 premiere of the AMC zombie drama scored 17 million viewers, up 22 percent from the season 6 finale, while making it the show’s second highest rated episode of all-time.

EW’s Ray Rahman appeared on the latest episode of EW: The Show to put the huge rating into context. ”Appointment TV like that just doesn’t happen anymore,” said Rahman. “Game of Thrones is an example of another show that sustains that kind of audience, but Walking Dead so far seems to be back in that game.”

For more on The Walking Dead, pick up the newest issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday, or buy it here. And subscribe now to receive a free Walking Dead tote!

Plus! Pick up Entertainment Weekly’s Ultimate Guide to the Walking Dead is out now.

DAN WINTERS for EW

Watch this full episode of Entertainment Weekly: The Show, available now, on the new People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the PEN app on Apple TV, Roku Players, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, iOS and Android devices.