Sunday's return of AMC’s The Walking Dead drew a series episode record 16.1 million viewers, the network announced Monday.
The zombie-themed series' season four premiere devoured the 10.9 million viewers garnered by its October 2012 season-three debut, and the 12.3 million viewers the show drew for its mid-season premiere last February. The April 1 season three finale of the series averaged 12.4 million viewers.
Sunday's The Walking Dead season premiere also average a staggering 10.4 million adults 18-49, outperforming all TV programs including primetime NFL Football games on ESPN and NBC within the advertiser-coveted demo. With time-shifted playback, last night, the premiere should exceed 20 million viewers, according to network offiicals.
Following The Walking Dead premiere, the third season of debut of companion series Talking Dead drew its biggest audience ever, averaging 5.1 million viewers and 3.3 million adult 18-49 watchers, said network officials.
“Sincere thanks to the fans, who have welcomed The Walking Dead back for its fourth season with the highest-rated episode in the show's history,” said AMC President Charlie Collier in a statement. “We could not be more proud of this show and everyone on both sides of the camera who work so hard to give life to this story of character, leadership and survival."