Last year, AMC unveiled "The Walking Dead" on Halloween night to 5.3 million viewers and 8 million viewers including the encore showing immediately following the pilot. Those impressive early numbers paved the way for a quick second season pickup… and history may be about to repeat itself.
The long anticipated second season premiere of "The Walking Dead" launched to an astonishing 7.3 million viewers in its initial showing, with an additional 3.7 million viewers sticking around for the encore. All told, 11 million viewers tuned in, giving AMC a 38% increase from the previous year.
Naturally, the network was ecstatic about the news and quickly released a statement.
“'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,” wrote Charlie Collier, AMC's president. “That 'The Walking Dead' is now the most-watched drama in the history of basic cable is staggering, just like our zombies.”
If "The Walking Dead" delivers comparable numbers next Sunday, then a third season pickup will almost certainly follow. It may even come as quickly as this week.
In some ways, "The Walking Dead" is a success despite the behind-the-scenes struggles over budget and creative direction that led to Frank Darabont's controversial dismissal from the series shortly after appearing at Comic-Con to hype the second season. AMC has a tendency to lock horns with its showrunners and because "The Walking Dead" is being produced without an outside studio's involvement, AMC has more control over this show than it does over "Breaking Bad" or "Mad Men."
However, it seems clear that viewers will keep watching "The Walking Dead" as long as the series doesn't suffer creatively from the outside turmoil. And for now, AMC can boast that it has one of the biggest hits on cable.
You can read our review of the second season premiere here!