Sunday night is a virtual buffet of great television. AMC served up even more for us to feast our eyes on last night when the cable channel debuted the highly anticipated third season of The Walking Dead. Regardless of all of its competition, not only did The Walking Dead premiere to bigger numbers than last year, but it also broke records for itself and basic cable.

According to Variety, The Walking Dead earned 10.9 million viewers for its Season 3 premiere broadcast at 9:00 p.m. and a total of 15.2 million for the night. Even when not factoring in the later airing, 10.9 million viewers puts the AMC series in the area of a solid performance for network television. The fact that its a basic cable channel makes this feat particularly impressive, especially when considering it was up against ABC's Revenge, CBS' The Good Wife, HBO's Boardwalk Empire and Showtime's Dexter, not to mention NBC's Sunday Night Football. Not only did the zombie drama top itself by comparison to the Season 2 premiere (7.3 million), but it also came in as the biggest telecast for any drama series in basic cable history.

As the trade points out, these numbers might have been even higher if DISH subscribers had access to the channel. DISH subscribers did have access to an online screening of the episode, but those numbers presumably haven't been factored into the 10.9 million. Needless to say, The Walking Dead's popularity is spreading like a virus. And not the kind of virus that makes your face peel off when someone takes off your helmet. The kind that makes viewers tune in like hoards of brains-hungry walkers!

Earlier today we showed you some videos for next week's episode. Here's a photo from Episode 2 of Season 3, titled "Run."

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET on AMC.

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