AMC’s attempt to franchise its hugely profitable Walking Dead series appears to have paid off.
Sunday’s premiere of Fear the Walking Dead, the spinoff-prequel of cable’s top-rated series, drew 10.1 million viewers, becoming the top cable premiere of all time. The 90-minute episode also drew 6.3 million viewers in the advertiser-coveted 18 to 49 demographic, surpassing Better Call Saul—the Breaking Bad spinoff which debuted earlier this year with 4.4 million—to rank as the top cable premiere in that demo as well.
A special Talking Dead leading into Fear drew 4.2 million total viewers and 2.5 million among adults ages 18 to 49.
This is how far AMC’s zombie franchise has come: The flagship Walking Dead premiere drew 5.4 million total viewers in 2010. It has since gobbled up considerably more viewers, ranking as the most-viewed series on cable and the most-viewed in the 18-to-49 demo in all of TV.
Fear the Walking Dead will run for five more episodes leading into the Season 6 premiere of The Walking Dead in October. AMC has already ordered a 15-episode second season.
AMC now boasts three of the top five cable premieres of all time with the two Walking Dead shows and Better Call Saul. The strong debuts for Fear and Better Call Saul were huge for AMC with the network banking on them to be the pillars of its post-Mad Men era. AMC also rolled out Humans this summer and will debut martial-arts drama Into the Badlands later this year.