‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Debuts With Record Cable Audience

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“Fear the Walking Dead,” the spinoff of AMC Networks Inc.’s hit zombie show, drew the largest-ever audience for a new cable series, helping the network turn one of TV’s most popular programs into a larger franchise.

The 90-minute premiere attracted 10.1 million viewers, New York-based AMC said Monday in an e-mailed statement. The show also drew 6.3 million viewers in the 18-to-49-year-old age group that advertisers target, the network said, citing Nielsen.

The debut for “Fear the Walking Dead” will ease concerns that the network would struggle to replace popular shows that have left the air. “Fear the Walking Dead” broke a record set by another new AMC program: “Better Call Saul,” a prequel to “Breaking Bad.”

“It is increasingly difficult to evaluate a show’s success on night one,” Charlie Collier, president of the AMC channel and SundanceTV, said on the statement. “However, we are releasing these live/same day ratings because ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ delivered record-breaking numbers that are all the more special in this era of time-shifted viewing and audience fragmentation.”

“Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” were two shows that defined AMC as a destination for critically praised scripted series. Both are out of production.

Neither attracted as many viewers as “The Walking Dead,” one of the only scripted cable shows to draw audiences rivaling broadcast networks. That show’s season five premiere drew 17.3 million viewers.

AMC also airs “Talking Dead,” a talk show about the zombie series.

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