Last night's second-season premiere of "The Walking Dead" drew in 7.3 million viewers, setting a new high for the acclaimed AMC drama. That number climbs to 11 million if you include the 10:30 p.m. rebroadcast.
The audience for the 90-minute episode, "What Lies Ahead," increased 38 percent from the Halloween 2010 series debut, and was larger even than the record-setting Season 1 finale, which attracted 6 million viewers (8.1 million with its rebroadcast).
Perhaps just as importantly, the premiere delivered 4.2 million viewers in the coveted adults 18-49 demographic, shattering a 10-year-old basic-cable record for a single drama telecast.
"'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," AMC President Charlie Collier said in a statement. "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. That 'The Walking Dead' is now the most-watched drama in the history of basic cable is staggering, just like our zombies."
Developed by Frank Darabont, who exited the show in late July, "The Walking Dead" is based on the long-running Image Comics horror series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard. Darabont wrote the season premiere, credited as "Ardeth Bey," Universal's Mummy.
You can watch "What Lies Ahead" below, and read Spinoff Online's recap of the episode. "The Walking Dead" returns Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.