By Tom Kenneally
NEW YORK (TheWrap.com) - "The Walking Dead" returned in its third season premiere to 10.9 million viewers, making it the most-watched basic cable drama telecast ever.
The episode, which found a band of survivors cleaning out a prison full of walkers, grew more than 50 percent over last season's premiere, and scored an astonishing 7.3 million viewers in the key 18-49 demographic.
In addition, the season two premiere of the wrap-up show "Talking Dead" at 11 p.m. attracted 2.1 million viewers, growing 85 percent over the season one premiere.
Including the 10 p.m. and midnight encores for "Walking Dead," it scored 15.2 million viewers.
"Thank you to the fans for making ‘The Walking Dead' such a tremendous success," said Charlie Collier, president of AMC. "We are honored and humbled that television's largest adult audience resides on AMC. So many people on both sides of the camera worked tirelessly on this project, and I thank and congratulate each of them for their amazing contribution."
As AMC noted, it hit the ratings high without "Walking Dead" airing on Dish Networks, which have dropped AMC networks. Dish claims they score low ratings outside from Sunday dramas, but AMC contends that Dish is seeking leverage in an unrelated lawsuit.