The Walking Dead has been steadily increasing in the ratings since it first began airing in 2010. The premieres of each season have often garnered some of the show’s biggest ratings, and last year brought in a series high of 16.1 million total viewers. Apparently, The Walking Dead can’t be stopped. The show began airing its fifth season on Sunday night, and this morning it was revealed that 17.3 million total viewers sat down to watch when AMC’s drama hit the schedule at 9 p.m.

17.3 million viewers during the night’s first airing is a lot of people. Additionally, it’s great news for AMC, who can pull in huge advertising numbers, thanks to the popularity of The Walking Dead with younger people. Of those 17.3 million total viewers, Deadline is reporting that 11 million of those viewers were in the 18-49 demographic.

Those numbers beat most of the premieres on network TV this season, earning bigger total viewer views than the opening episodes of The Voice and The Blacklist, as well as newcomers Gotham and Scorpion. Over at CBS, The Big Bang Theory did do a bit better with its premiere, pulling in 17.7 million total viewers when it hit the schedule last month.

Luckily, The Walking Dead didn’t have to compete with CBS’ comedy last night. It did have to compete with Sunday Night Football, however, and so far it looks as if The Walking Dead might have actually beat the numbers pulled in by NBC’s football broadcast. Final numbers aren’t out yet, but it would be pretty cool if The Walking Dead does manage to pull ahead after not beating Sunday Night Football during last year’s premiere.

If you haven’t caught the Season 5 premiere of The Walking Dead, AMC has made the full premiere episode available over at the cabler’s site. Even better, you don’t have to sign in with your cable provider information to watch.

If you did already catch the premiere episode, you can join the conversation about the first episode of the season, here. Be sure to let us know what you think about the upcoming villain who possibly/maybe/probably didn’t appear in the Season 5 premiere episode.

AMC's The Walking Dead airs on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET. Stay tuned to see if the popular show beats last night's ratings record, and don't forget to head over to the next page to catch the opening scene from the premiere.

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