AMC's "The Walking Dead" returned after a brief hiatus to 12.3 million total viewers last night, the series' largest audience to date, the network said on Monday.
That means "The Walking Dead" -- the most-watched series on ad-supported cable to date -- has averaged 6.8 million viewers from 18 to 49 this season so far, which AMC said puts it ahead of averages in that demographic even for broadcast mainstays such as "Modern Family," "NCIS" and "Big Bang Theory." Last night's "Walking Dead" drew 7.7 million viewers 18-to-49, the network said.
"The Walking Dead's" previous record was 10.9 million total viewers for the season three premiere in October.
AMC also aired a new episode of "Talking Dead," a live talk-show style companion to "The Walking Dead," to 4.1 million viewers in the 10 p.m. time slot. AMC has expanded "Talking Dead" to an hour from a half-hour.
The network plans to begin showing the first season of Walking Dead this Thursday -- but in black and white. That evokes the black-and-white comic on which the TV show is based as well as "Night of the Living Dead," the classic 1968 movie from George Romero.