Fear the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead prequel that ended its first season last week, comprised just six episodes but nevertheless has taken the title for highest-rated first season of any cable series. The first season averaged 11.2 million viewers: 7.3 million adults 18-49 and 7.2 million adults 25-53 in live+3, according to AMC. This past Sunday’s season finale captured 10.1 million viewers, despite competition from NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
“When we set out to launch a companion series to the No. 1 show on television, there were truly many things to fear, beyond Fear itself,” said AMC president Charlie Collier in a statement. “To see this show stand alone, break through and set records as a unique piece of storytelling is very gratifying and a tribute to great creative talent.”
Only Fox’s hip-hop drama Empire, which debuted in January (and followed up with a second season this fall), had higher viewership numbers for a debut series in 2015, according to Variety. And that show, whose first season was the only season in TV history to increase in ratings for nine consecutive weeks, was quite the force this year.
Fear the Walking Dead, of course, had an advantage over other new series in that many Walking Dead fans also watched the offshoot. The Walking Dead, which begins its sixth season on Sunday, drew a massive 15.8 million viewers in its season five finale earlier this year. Following that kind season final, it’s not too surprising that the prequel series premiere — and now the entire first season — have also broken viewership records for a new series.
AMC also noted that Talking Dead, the Chris Hardwick-hosted Walking Dead aftershow, will return for its second season after each episode of Fear of the Walking Dead season two, which debuts in 2016.