The Walking Dead had a lot going for it last night. It has been the subject of hype for months, was premiering on Halloween, and recieved heaps of praise from critics everywhere. The Frank Darabont directed debut was almost a guaranteed to garner good numbers for its first episode, but I'm not sure anyone could have predicted just how amazing the ratings actually would be.

THR reports that The Walking Dead's 90-minute episode series starter had 5.3 million viewers and a 3.3 million adults 18-49 rating last night, making it not only the biggest hit in AMC's history, but the largest demo audience for a cable premiere this year. Even the encore airings of The Walking Dead, later in the night, received big numbers. Those encore showings pulled in nearly 3 million viewers. Add that to the premiere's total and more than 8.1 million people watched The Walking Dead on AMC last night.

Though some insiders were concerned the show would be unable to draw a female crowd, the numbers suggest that even this was not an issue. If these numbers hold, expect to see The Walking Dead picked up for a second season pretty quickly.

AMC is close to being crowned as the new king of original content. Between The Walking Dead, Mad Men and Breaking Bad, the channel has some of the best programming on television today. Count me in as a fan. I was there for Walking Dead last night and can confirm that it deserves an extended shelf-life. The only real tragedy here is that the first season is only six episodes long.

We'll leave you with this: the teaser video for the rest of season 1. Check it out below.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on AMC.

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