"The Walking Dead" is off to a sprinting start in its return to prime time.
The mid-season return of AMC's zombie apocalypse drama scored the largest audience in series history, delivering 12.3 million viewers in the 9 p.m. Sunday premiere of the latter half of its third season. The previous record was 10.9 million from the third season launch on Oct. 14.
The episode's 18-49 audience of 6.8 million viewers outdistanced several popular network series, including "Modern Family," "The Big Bang Theory", "Two and a Half Men" and "NCIS."
"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," said AMC President Charlie Collier. "They embrace 'The Walking Dead' in a way that we wanted to believe was possible but we never take for granted."