AMC’s The Walking Dead, a new zombie drama starring Andrew London and based on Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels, debuted to big numbers for the network over the weekend.

Sunday night’s series premiere — titled “Days Gone Bye” — opened with more than 5.3 million viewers, the largest numbers ever for an AMC original series, The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy Blog reports. The earned an average of 3.6 million viewers in the adults 18-49 demographic, making The Walking Dead the best-rated cable debut of the year.

By comparision, AMC’s highest-rated drama — the Emmy-winning Mad Men — drew an audience of only 2.4 viewers during its Season 4.

“It’s a good day to be dead. We are so proud of this series, its depth of storytelling and the remarkable talent attached,” says AMC President Charlie Collier. “As the network dedicated to bringing viewers the best stories on television, we are so pleased to have the opportunity with ‘The Walking Dead’ to raise the bar within this popular genre and continue our commitment to being the home of premium television on basic cable.”

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