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'Mad Men' Season Five Premiere is Series' Most-Watched Episode

The long-awaited return of Mad Men Sunday night garnered 3.5 million total viewers for its two-hour fifth season premiere, making it the AMC drama's most-watched episode ever.

The premiere was up 46% compared to its season four finale in October 2010, and topped the season four premiere by 21%, according to Nielsen data. Along with its 11 p.m. re-airing, the episode was seen by 4.4 million total viewers.

In key demos, the series also improved over where it started season four, drawing 1.6 million adults 18-49 (+30%), 1.7 million adults 25-54 (+17%) and a 2.5 HH rating (+9%).

Mad Men had been on a 17-month hiatus after AMC decided to give Breaking Bad its usual summer timeslot. It is not unusual for series to return to improved ratings after a long break, and the licensing deal Lionsgate struck with Netflix last summer to stream the first four seasons of Mad Men may also have helped the series reach record ratings in its return.