"The Walking Dead" is adding viewers even more rapidly than it loses executive producers. Last night's mid-season premiere of the AMC zombie drama (starting the final stretch of episodes with Glen Mazzara as showrunner) premiered to 12.3 million viewers, the show's biggest audience ever — bigger than the 10.9 million audience for the season premiere back in the fall.

Of that audience, 7.7 million viewers were in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 year-old demographic, making the hour  the highest-rated series episode in basic cable history by that measurement. On average, "The Walking Dead" has been the highest-rated entertainment series in all of television in that demo this season, outrating "Modern Family," "The Big Bang Theory," "NCIS," etc.

When you add up encore viewings on Sunday night, the total viewer number jumps to 16.6 million.