AMC's hit zombies series "The Walking Dead" had a record breaking debut for Season 2 on Sunday.
Pulling in 7.3 million total viewers for the premiere, the series attracted 11 million total viewers when including the 10:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. encores. The numbers were a 38 percent increase -- 36 percent in 18-49 (4.8 million) and 35 percent in 25-54 (4.2 million) -- compared to Season 1's premiere in total viewers.
“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,” said Charlie Collier, AMC president. “That 'The Walking Dead' is now the most-watched drama in the history of basic cable is staggering, just like our zombies.”
The previous cable record holder was USA Network’s "The Dead Zone," which in June 2002 scored 4.0 million in 18-49 and 4.1 million in 25-54.
The network will split the show's expanded 13-episode season this year. Six episodes will follow the premiere, with the remaining six airing starting Feb. 12, 2012.
Taking the showrunner helm from Frank Darabont (“The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Green Mile”) for Season 2 is Glen Mazzara ("The Shield"), who penned Episode 5 of the show and who signed aboard as an executive producer following Season 1.
"The Walking Dead" follows police officer Grimes as he leads his family and a group of survivors across the country in search of a safe home as zombie hordes threaten their every move.
The series, which airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET, stars Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal ("The Pacific," "The Ghost Writer"), Steven Yeun, Sarah Wayne Callies ("Prison Break"), Chandler Riggs ("Get Low"), Jeffrey DeMunn ("The Green Mile") and Laurie Holden ("Shield").
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