AMC Zombie Fest Goes Out on a High Note

The season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead on Sunday shambled off into the sunset with its best-ever deliveries, scaring up a record 5.97 million total viewers, of which 4 million were members of the 18-49 demo.

When two encore presentations (at 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Monday) were factored in, the final episode of the first season drew some 8.12 million total viewers, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data.

The half-dozen installments that made up season one of The Walking Dead were seen by an average crowd of 5.24 million viewers and 3.52 million viewers 18-49. The latter delivery sets an all-time record for the demo by an original scripted series on basic cable.

AMC on Nov. 8 announced it had ordered a 13-episode second-season flight of The Walking Dead, which is expected to debut in October 2011. The show will return with the same cast—notwithstanding those characters who answered the zombie dinner bell––but an entirely new writing staff. Last week, TWD executive producer Frank Darabont fired the show’s writers, with an eye toward doling out script assignments to freelancers.

Darabont wrote the pilot and second episode of TWD and is said to have significantly rewritten the subsequent four installments.

Since 2006, when AMC first began investing in original series programming, the network has boosted its ad sales revenue by 70 percent, to $280 million, per SNL Kagan data. Over the same five-year period, affiliate revenue has increased 23 percent to $282 million.