The 9pm first airing of The Walking Dead: Season 3 premiere 'Seed' attracted 10.9 million total viewers, over a 50 percent jump from the Season 2 premiere. That performance earned it not only the highest rated episode of the series thus far, but the "biggest telecast for any drama series in basic cable history among all viewers" according to AMC.
An encore performance at 10pm plus an additional midnight airing brought in another 4.3 million viewers to put the full Season 3 debut across all airings at a whopping 15.2 million viewers for the night. Those numbers put it up there with the top performing network dramas such as CSI in its prime and NCIS.
Digging deeper in the ratings, the 9pm premiere put up an absolutely incredible 5.8 rating in the advertiser-friendly 18-49 demo. That kind of rating is almost unheard of for a network series, much less a cable series.
The Talking Dead fared well in its 11pm timeslot as well with 2.1 million total viewers, an 85 percent bump from its debut a year ago.
The trick for AMC and The Walking Dead production is to maintain this level of viewership - or something close to it - throughout the remainder of the season. 'Seed' started with a bang and didn't let up right through a final act that ended on a cliffhanger. It's hard to imagine those that tuned in not wanting to see what happens next.