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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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March 27th, 2013
05:41 PM ET

AMC cashes in on "The Walking Dead"

AMC's "The Walking Dead" is a smash hit. In just three seasons, a show about a police officer who wakes up from a coma to find a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies is taking over television.

Its average audience has doubled in just three years to more than 10 million viewers this season, helping the AMC network rise to the top of the cable heap. Advertising revenue jumped 16% to $157 million in the last quarter of 2012.

"I think that the show's ratings have increased exponentially in this past season both because the show itself has gotten better - it's gotten leaner and meaner and more efficient in the way it presents its adventure," says Ken Tucker, a media critic with Entertainment Weekly. "But I also think that it's offering something that neither the networks nor pay cable television is offering, which is just this spectacle of killing zombies."

You already know sex sells. Turns out the undead do too. Series star Andrew Lincoln, who plays Sheriff Rick Grimes, told CNN he's surprised by the success.

"I mean we're still pinching ourselves. And, I don't know. I mean, of course, you know, the apocalypse and that sort of theme is - seems to be around and in the air at the moment," Lincoln told CNN in 2012.

Some say it is precisely the show's fear factor that is drawing viewers in droves.

"I think this show works as a metaphor for the kinds of threats and insecurities and enemies we feel in life whether it's the economy, or the threat of terrorism, or the threat of home invasion," says Tucker. "It exercises a lot of fears that people have. It's a way of kind of working through the anxieties you have. And I think that's one thing that good pop culture does - it enables us to work through things that trouble us and makes us feel better about ourselves."

The show's third season ends this Sunday. But fear not zombie fans, it's still alive. Season four begins in October.

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