In a literal evocation of the term a no-brainer, AMC on Tuesday announced it has renewed The Walking Dead for a third season.
The news comes on the heels of the series’ record-smashing (and stomach-churning) Oct. 16 season premiere, which scared up 7.26 million total viewers and 4.81 million adults 18-49.
On Sunday night, the apocalyptic zombie thriller retained a stellar 92 percent of its premiere deliveries, drawing 6.7 million viewers; at 94 percent, the return rate among members of the target demo was even better (4.54 million).
“We are pleased to announce that the dead shall live as we proudly renew The Walking Dead for a third season,” said Charlie Collier, president, AMC. “We are thankful for everyone’s contribution in front of and behind the camera as we continue to make The Walking Dead a unique television experience.”
The Walking Dead is AMC’s most successful original series to date, far outstripping such celebrated homegrown fare as Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Killing. On Nov. 6, the network bows yet another new show in the period drama Hell on Wheels.
Adapted from Robert Kirkman’s long-running comic book series by former showrunner Frank Darabont, The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, a police officer who serves as the moral compass for a group of survivors trying to gut out an unexplained zombie plague. Glen Mazzara serves as showrunner, having succeeded Darabont in July.
AMC closed out the third quarter of 2011 ranked 21st among all basic cable networks in prime time, with an average draw of 445,000 adults 18-49—up 21 percent versus the year-ago period.
Since 2006, when AMC first began investing in original programming, the network has boosted its net ad sales revenue by 76 percent, to $245.6 million, per SNL Kagan estimates. Over the same period, affiliate revenue has grown 49 percent to $289.2 million.