AMC's latest walk into original series killed with the Nielsens.
The Rainbow Media service's debut of zombie series The Walking Dead averaged a 3.7 household rating and 5.3 million, according to Nielsen data, marking the biggest audience ever for the network.
The culmination of AMC's annual "Fearfest" horror programming gambit, the show, which bowed at 10 p.m. on Halloween, also scared up 3.6 million adults 18 to 49, making it cable's top 2010 series premiere against the demo Madison Avenue dies for, according to network officials. The 90-minute premiere also garnered 2.1 million adults 25 to 54 and 2.1 million adults 18 to 34 in its first airing.
With encores at 11:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. on Nov. 1, The Walking Dead, based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics, cumed a 6.0 rating and 8.1 million watchers, according to officials.
From demo perspectives, the show cumed 5.4 million persons 18 to 49, 4.7 million adults 25 to 54 and 3.1 million persons 18 to 34, in coming out of the grave for the first time.
The debut of The Walking Dead outdelivered AMC's three-time Emmy winner for outstanding drama series, Mad Men, as well as Breaking Bad, which features Bryan Cranston's Emmy-winning turn as high school teacher cum crystal meth cooker-dealer.
AMC's first wholly-owned original production, The Walking Dead premiered globally on Oct. 31 through a partnership with AMC and Fox International Channels. Similar to a theatrical film release, all Fox International Channels are launching the premiere episode this week, resulting in the series' debuting in 120 countries and in 33 languages.
"It's a good day to be dead. We are so proud of this series, its depth of storytelling and the remarkable talent attached," said AMC president Charlie Collier in a statement. "As the network dedicated to bringing viewers the best stories on television, we are so pleased to have the opportunity with The Walking Dead to raise the bar within this popular genre and continue our commitment to being the home of premium television on basic cable."
"The Walking Dead is that rare piece of programming that works on so many levels. It is legitimately great storytelling that is not only highly entertaining, but incredibly thought provoking as well. People who are familiar with the comic books know what's coming, but suffice it to say, this is only the beginning of a long, intense, and powerful ride. Long live The Walking Dead," said Joel Stillerman, AMC senior vice president of original programming, production and digital content.