Though we told you so in our official review, The Walking Dead is now officially a hit. The ratings for the show’s premiere episode were the highest debut in the history of AMC TV – bigger than Mad Men or Breaking Bad.

The show also had the largest cable television debut this year amongst the 18 – 49 demographic (3.3 million) – meaning that The Walking Dead is a hit amongst the target demographics that programmers especially covet. And, if these ratings hold, you can bet that a second season of The Walking Dead will be announced shortly.

Here are the official numbers: The Walking Dead scared up 5.3 million viewers for its 10pm hour-and-a-half premiere, with another 3 million tuning in for the encore presentation. Even without all the DVR figures – and you know there were a significant amount of people out for the Halloween holiday who recorded the show to watch later – that’s still 8 million viewers who caught The Walking Dead on its premiere night. A significant number of female viewers even turned out for the mix of drama and mayhem, capping early concerns about the show’s appeal.

Needless to say, Walking Dead comic book creator Robert Kirkman and show creator Frank Darabont are pretty happy right now, and so is AMC. Said AMC president Charlie Collier:

“It’s a good day to be dead. We are so proud of this series, its depth of storytelling and the remarkable talent attached…As the network dedicated to bringing viewers the best stories on television, we are so pleased to have the opportunity with The Walking Dead to raise the bar within this popular genre and continue our commitment to being the home of premium television on basic cable.”

HBO, you better watch your back!

All flame-fanning aside, I do have to say that I’m pleased with The Walking Dead (see my review HERE) and between this show and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire I can confidently say that my Sunday nights are back to the level they fell from after shows like The Sopranos and The Wire bowed out. Indeed, my weekends are going to be ending on a good note for the foreseeable future.

As for The Walking Dead season 2? We heard a rumor awhile back that AMC had already renewed the show for a second season, but as recently as the NY Comic-Con, Darabont and show producer Gale Anne Hurd were animate about the fact that they were squarely focused on promoting this first season at the moment. Of course, now that the show is up and not just walking, but running, I would expect The Walking Dead season 2 rumors are pretty imminent to becoming a reality.

However, never one to leave great things to the hand of chance, below is a video preview of the rest of The Walking Dead‘s first season. Hopefully it will serve as an incentive to keep you watching and keep those ratings high – I want my season 2!

Catch The Walking Dead Sundays @ 10/9c on AMC.

Sources: AMC TV & THR