(VARIETY) — AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” basic cable’s biggest series of all time, opened its fourth season Sunday with more record numbers.

Despite facing higher-rated sports competition this year from both football and postseason baseball, “Walking Dead” returned Sunday with a monster average audience of 16.1 million viewers — more than 5 million viewers better than last year’s 10.87 million and more than double where it kicked off its second season in October 2011 (7.26 million).

It also did a huge 8.2 rating in adults 18-49, making it easily the top-rated entertainment series telecast of the season, ahead of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” (5.5 for its season premiere and a 6.1 for a special second episode right after it).

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