Feb. 18 (UPI) -- The mid-Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead was seen by 15.9 million viewers, AMC announced.
The episode aired last Sunday and its viewership was revealed Friday.
"Whether you consider The Walking Dead a survivor or an empire, it is gratifying to see the show return with such a big bang, and not just in theory -- ratings increases from December's finale in an environment in which growth, when measured and reported, can feel like something of a stranger thing," Chris Collier, president of AMC, SundanceTV and AMC Studios, said in a statement. "This is us on Sunday nights, going up against the best of television, the NFL, NBA and big-ticket special events like this week's Grammys, and yet [Scott] Gimple and [Robert] Kirkman are still holding the crown. Thanks to the modern family that gives voice to this remarkable show, No. 1 on television for five years in a row and, with that said, it's actually a franchise we are running and evaluating far beyond weekly Nielsen report cards. To take a shorter-term view of The Walking Dead would be scandal."
The small-screen comic-book adaptation follows a group of survivors as they make their way through the American south during a zombie apocalypse. It stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira and Lauren Cohan.