Sunday night episode, "The Suicide King," was episode nine of season three of the AMC horror series, and despite being up against the Grammy Awards, it set records. It drew a total of 12.3 million viewers in its first-run showing, and with a 6.1 adults 18-49 rating. Those numbers are the series' biggest yet in either measurement.
"The Walking Dead‘s" encore telecast increased the show’s viewership to 16.6 million for the night.
In comparison, last Thursday’s "American Idol" had 13.3 million viewers and a 4.1 rating in the key 18-49 demographic. Wednesday’s edition of "American Idol" had 14.3 million viewers and a 4.6 rating in that demographic
Obviously, "The Walking Dead" beat last week’s American Idol telecasts in the all-important 18-49 demographic. In addition, its ratings average for the current season is higher than top-rated broadcast network shows like "The Big Bang Theory," "NCIS," and "Modern Family."
To make matters still clearer, the Sunday night episode was the biggest adult demographic number ever seen for a basic cable series.
Fans of "The Walking Dead" could be moaning the following: Let's see new episodes 52-weeks out of the year.
Charlie Collier, AMC’s president said,
When you look at numbers like this, the first thing that comes to mind is how grateful we are to the fans of this show. They embrace The Walking Dead in a way that we wanted to believe was possible but we never take for granted.
The cast and crew put everything they have into making this show. They’re a phenomenally talented group who truly give their all. We congratulate everyone involved.
There is a degree of fear over what season four will bring, since showrunner Glen Mazzara will depart the series.
Still, when Mazzara took over as "Walking Dead" showrunner after the show's creator Frank Darabont left in early season two, things didn't seem to fade, and ratings certainly haven't. Since then, the show has hardly missed a (heart)beat.
Episode 10 of season three, "Home," airs on Sunday, Feb. 17.