The series’ previous record was the audience of 10.9 million who tuned in for the Season 3 premiere back in October.
Folding in encores, the midseason opener amassed 16.6 million viewers for the night.
Sunday’s Walking Dead episode also stands as the highest-rated telecast ever for a basic cable series, drawing 7.7 million adults age 18-49 (up 6 percent over the drama’s previous best and surging 44 percent from Season 2’s midseason premiere).
Averaging 6.8 million weekly viewers in that coveted demo, TWD this season is outperforming broadcast big boys such as Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men and NCIS.
Talking Dead’s own midseason opener led out of TWD’s 9 o’clock broadcast with 4.1 million total viewers.