Walking Dead"The Walking Dead' season 7 premiere beat the living daylights out of the rest of television, and is likely to end up as the most watched episode in series history.

Around 17 million viewers tuned in to watch Negan and Lucille deliver deadly beatings to (spoiler alert!) Glenn and Abraham. The premiere earned an 8.4 rating among adults 18-49, which means it triumphed over NBC's "Sunday Night Football" (gasp!). An 8.4 rating is massive — consider that the next two biggest scripted shows, "The Big Bang Theory" and "Empire," earned a 3.5 rating in recent weeks.

These numbers only account for same-day viewers of "The Walking Dead"; they should rise after other forms of viewing are added to the tally. That should be good enough to vault the season 7 premiere over the last series-best episode, the season 5 premiere, which had 17.3 million viewers and an 8.8 rating. (That was the episode when Carol busted the group out of Terminus.)

Not only that, but Sunday night's episode was up 22 percent over the season 6 finale. So all that hype about the cliffhanger — which many fans complained about — seems to have been worth it.

Still, the ultra-violent episode turned off many viewers, with some declaring they planned to quit watching the series. We'll see if those vows hold up after next Sunday's episode ratings come in.

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