Nellie Andreeva

Behind-the-scenes turmoil did little to slow down The Walking Dead ratings behemoth, which opened its second season at 9 PM last night to staggering numbers:

4.8 million viewers in Adults 18-49
4.2 million viewers in Adults 25-54
7.3 million total viewers for premiere
11 million total viewers for the night

The 18-49 and 25-54 tallies broke basic cable’s previous records posted by the premiere of USA Network’s The Dead Zone in June 2002 (4.0 million in 18-49, 4.1 million in 25-54). Compared with Walking Dead‘s highly rated series premiere last year (5.2 million total viewers, 3.5 million in 18-49), the Season 2 opener was up a whopping 38% in total viewers, 36% in 18-49 and 35% in 25-54. With the 9 PM airing and the 10:30 PM and 12:30 AM encores, the Walking Dead premiere drew a total of 11 million 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 AMC president Charlie Collier. “That The Walking Dead is now the most-watched drama in the history of basic cable is staggering, just like our zombies.” UPDATE: AMC’s talk show Talking Dead got off to a solid start at midnight, following the first rerun of the Walking Dead premiere. It averaged 1.2 million total viewers, 795,000 adults 18-49 and 735,000 adults 25-54.

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