The only staggering on the second-season opener of The Walking Dead came from the zombies on the show.
The Oct. 16 sophomore season premiere of The Walking Dead at 9 p.m. delivered record ratings for AMC, averaging a 4.8 household rating 7.3 million total viewers over its 90-minute bow, according to Nielsen data.
Included in that group were 4.8 million persons 18 to 49 and 4.2 million adults 25 to 54, demo deliveries that broke the basic-cable record for a single drama telecast previously held by USA Network's The Dead Zone. That Anthony Michael Hall-starrer averaged 4.03 million persons 18 to 49 and 4.09 million adults 25 to 54 among its then cable-record debut of 6.4 million viewers.
Compared with last year's series premiere exhumation, which was the culmination of AMC's annual "Fearfest" programming stunt, Sunday's bow grew 30% from a 3.7 rating and 38% in average audience from 5.3 million watchers. The pilot also scared up 3.6 million adults 18 to 49 and 2.1 million adults 25 to 54, meaning the sophomore season premiere grew by a third among the demo Madison Avenue execs die for and doubled with the older group.
Total viewership for the second-campaign's premiere episode increased 38% over the series' season one average, with Sunday's 4.8 household rating representing a 36% advance over last season's rating.
The Walking Dead improved 36% in the key demo and 35% with adults 25 to 54 over its season-one average, according to AMC officials.
Overall, Sunday's episode cumed 11 million viewers through three airings.
With a pair of encores, 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 for its series starter, according to officials.
"‘The Walking Dead' is one of those rare television programs that reaches both a core genre fan as well as broad audiences simply looking for a great, character-based story. We're so proud of and grateful for the amazing team on both sides of the camera who works so hard and is so committed to making this a unique programming event," said
AMC president Charlie Collier in a statement. That The Walking Dead is now the most-watched drama in the history of basic cable is staggering, just like our zombies."