Zombies took over Sunday night — at least in terms of ratings. The premiere of Fear the Walking Dead, the six-episode companion series to The Walking Dead, captured a record amount of cable viewers. According to Variety, Nielsen estimates place the 90-minute episode at 10.1 million viewers, making it the best cable series premiere on record.
Fear the Walking Dead beat out TNT’s Raising the Bar, the previous record holder, which premiered in 2008 to 7.7 million viewers. It’s an impressive showing for Fear, especially considering that no episode in the first two seasons of The Walking Dead garnered more viewers. AMC execs should be patting themselves on the back, if they haven’t already.
Of course, Fear‘s big numbers are helped along by the fact that the show is a spinoff of a hit series. With The Walking Dead not due to return until October, Fear is a natural show for fans to turn to during the wait. Although not a continuation of The Walking Dead, the new series also focuses on the same zombie apocalypse. The series strongly diverges from the original in that it takes place in the early stages of the outbreak — and therefore at an earlier point in time — and is set in Los Angeles.
Leading up to the premiere, AMC released the first few minutes of the episode, ramping up excitement for the spinoff with a creepy zombie encounter. Fear will follow a family that struggles with their own dysfunction while dealing with the horrors of the walking dead. The cast includes Kim Dickins, Cliff Curtis, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, and Elizabeth Rodriguez, among others.
Fear, which was created by Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson, will run for at least two seasons, the second having already been ordered by AMC.