Ratings: Walking Dead Shatters Records

Apocalypse wow: The Walking Dead kicked off its third season Sunday with record-shattering ratings.

More than 10.9 million viewers watched [SPOILER ALERT] Rick cut off Hershel’s zombie-bitten leg — making the premiere episode the series’ biggest yet, rising 50 percent from the Season 2 opener. (The previously most-watched Dead episode was last season’s finale, which drew nearly 9 million viewers.)

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Among the coveted 18-49 demo, Walking Dead drew 7.2 million viewers, up 52 percent from the Season 2 premiere.

The action-packed hour also ranks as biggest telecast for any drama series in basic cable history in total viewers — a particularly impressive feat given that AMC is not currently available to Dish subscribers. And folding in two encores, the premiere amassed 15.2 million total viewers.

Leading out of TWD‘s first encore, the Season 2 premiere of Talking Dead at 11 pm held onto 2.1 million viewers, up 85 percent from its series launch.