AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead,” the much-anticipated companion series to megahit zombie drama “The Walking Dead,” opened to monster — and record-setting — ratings of its own on Sunday night.
Nielsen estimates that the 90-minute debut of “Fear the Walking Dead” became the No. 1-rated cable series launch on record with 10.1 million viewers, including 6.3 million adults 18-49. In total viewers, “Fear” surpasses TNT’s “Raising the Bar” (7.7 million in 2008) as top dog among cable premieres.
The previous record in the 18-49 demo was AMC’s “Better Call Saul” (4.4 million) earlier this year. In fact, AMC now has three of the top five cable launches of all time, with “Walking Dead” ranking fifth.
In both 18-49 and total viewers, Sunday’s premiere out-rated all 22 episodes from the first two seasons of “The Walking Dead.” The original’s third-season premiere did a 5.8 demo rating and 10.87 million total viewers.
Leading into the “Fear” premiere Sunday, a special “Talking Dead” season-6 preview episode did a 1.9 rating in 18-49 and 4.2 million viewers overall.
AMC is expected to release Live+3 ratings for “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Talking Dead” on Friday.
“Fear the Walking Dead,” created by Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson, differentiates itself from the original by being set both in a different place (Los Angeles) and time (at the very beginning of the apocalyptic outbreak). Its cast includes Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane and Ruben Blades.
Helping serve as a seat-warmer for the mothership’s return on Oct. 11, “Fear” will air six episodes in its first season. It was given a straight-to-series, two-season order by AMC in March. Season 2 is slated for 2016.