AMC's hit series The Walking Dead returned last night with "The Suicide King", the first of eight new episodes that will close out Season 3. In case you missed it, or if you just want to watch it again, the network has released the full episode online. AMC has also announced that "The Suicide King" was watched by a massive 12.3 million viewers last night, making it the show's most-watched hour in series history. Take a look at the full video, then read the full press release for more details.

Last night, AMC's mid-Season 3 premiere of The Walking Dead returned with its largest audience ever in series history delivering 12.3 million viewers at the 9 PM premiere. The previous record was 10.9 million viewers from the Season 3 premiere on October 14, 2012. The episode is also the strongest telecast for a series in basic cable history for adults 18-49 with 7.7 million. These results shatter the hit series' previous record with an increase of +6% (A18-49) over the October 14, 2012 Season 3 premiere. The Walking Dead Season 3 series average for adults 18-49 delivers 6.8 million outperforming other television series season averages including Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, and NCIS. In addition to the 9 PM premiere, the show encored at 11 PM, midnight and 2 AM, delivering 16.6 million viewers for the night.

Following the 9 PM premiere of The Walking Dead, AMC premiered a new episode of Talking Dead at 10 PM. 4.1 million viewers tuned in to the live show. Hosted by Chris Hardwick, Talking Dead is a companion series to The Walking Dead and features Hardwick and fans, actors, producers and other TV enthusiasts, discussing and dissecting that night's Dead premiere. The series expanded to a full hour with the final 8 episodes of Season 3. Here's what AMC president Charlie Collier had to say in a statement.

"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. They embrace The Walking Dead in a way that we wanted to believe was possible but we never take for granted. The cast and crew put everything they have into making this show. They're a phenomenally talented group who truly give their all. We congratulate everyone involved."

Key Nielsen Highlights for the season three B premiere of The Walking Dead:

  • 9 PM airing - 7.3 HH rating with 12.3 million viewers; a +40%/+51% increase respectively over last year's season 2B premiere
  • - 9 PM airing - Adults 18-49 delivered 7.7 million viewers; a +44% increase over last year's season 2B premiere
  • - 9 PM airing - Adults 25-54 delivered 6.7 million viewers; a +51% increase over last year's season 2B premiere.
  • - 9 PM premiere, 11 PM, midnight and 2 AM airings grossed to 16.6 million viewers, 10.7 million Adults 18-49 and 8.9 million Adults 25-54

Key Nielsen Highlights for the season three B premiere of Talking Dead:

  • 10 PM: 2.6 HH rating with 4.1 million viewers, +225%/+371% vs. last year's season 2B premiere.
  • - 10 PM: 2.7 million Adults 18-49, +396% vs. last year's season 2B premiere.
  • - 10 PM: 2.3 million Adults 25-54, +369% vs. last year's season 2B premiere.

Hailed by Entertainment Weekly as "the greatest thriller ever produced for television," The Walking Dead has become a juggernaut on social media. The series currently has close to 15 million likes on Facebook and last night The Walking Dead was a top trend on Twitter for the night of the mid-season premiere. Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, the Emmy Award-winning series tells the story of the months and years that follow the zombie apocalypse. It follows a group of survivors, led by police officer Rick Grimes, who travel in search of a safe and secure home.

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