Sunday's midseason premiere of "The Walking Dead" not only brought Rick Grimes and the other survivors one step closer to all-out war with The Governor, it delivered the AMC drama its best ratings to date.
The episode, titled "The Suicide King," pulled in 12.3 million total viewers in its 9 p.m. airing, more than the 10.3 million who turned in for the Season 3 premiere, the series' previous record. Even against CBS's Grammy Awards telecast, "The Walking Dead" drew 7.7 million viewers among adults 18 to 49, a record for basic cable and a 6-percent increase from the October premiere.
Taking into account the 11 p.m., midnight and 2 a.m. encores, a total of 16.6 million viewers watched last night's episode.
"When you look at numbers like this, the first thing that comes to mind is how grateful we are to the fans of this show. They embrace The Walking Dead in a way that we wanted to believe was possible but we never take for granted," AMC President Charlie Collier said in a statement. "The cast and crew put everything they have into making this show. They're a phenomenally talented group who truly give their all. We congratulate everyone involved."
Based on the long-running Image Comics series created by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard, "The Walking Dead" was renewed for a fourth season in December even as showrunner Glenn Mazzara announced he was parting company with AMC. Executive producer Scott Gimple was announced as his successor in January, marking the drama's third showrunner in less than two years.
The midseason premiere is available for viewing online for a limited time at AMCTV.com or in the embedded video below.
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC