Just when AMC thought the ratings were rising from the grave…
While “The Walking Dead” remains a ratings beast, the numbers continue to decline. We spent the latter half of 2016 watching the ratings dip, only to have AMC boast numbers that in no way match up to what was reported by Nielsen Media Research.
The tailspin began in late November of last year when multiple reports indicated a sharp decline through the first five episodes of Season 7.
Fans were already pissed off with the cliffhanger at the end of Season 6, threatening to abandon the series if the showrunner and AMC didn’t reveal who Negan had killed during the climactic finale. Even with the threats, the show premiered to 17 million viewers, the most in the show’s run. But then, things got bad. Here’s what EW reported:
Viewership dropped 25 percent for the season’s second episode down to 12.5 million. Such a drop may have been expected somewhat given all the hype around the premiere resolving last season’s fateful circle-of-victims cliffhanger. But then the third episode dropped too (11.7 million), and so did the fourth (11.4 million) and now the fifth (11 million), with TWD marking a low point for the show since 2013.
Here’s a graph of the decline, via Wikipedia.
While many major news outlets left it at that, we wanted to see how long this funk would last. After one final drop, the remaining two episodes jumped back up in ratings, leaving the mid-season finale with 10.58 million viewers on December 11th.
“The Walking Dead” returned for the second half of its seventh season on February 12th, pulling in 12 million viewers. While this may sound like a significant boost, it’s actually the worst viewership since the middle of Season 4. Yes, the premiere was a flop, and things have only gotten worse; on Feb. 19 the show pulled in 11.08; Feb. 26 dropped to 10.42; and March 5 plummeted to only 10.16 viewers. Yes, 10 million is a whole lot of dedicated viewers, but it’s also the absolute worst ratings since mid-Season 3. This isn’t just a fluke anymore as it’s a trending theme. Take a look:
At this current pace, the show will hit single digit viewers by the end of Season 7, and will barely make it through a ninth or tenth year. Creator Robert Kirkman says “The Walking Dead” will continue shambling forth until it completely decomposes, planning out at least twelve seasons. A movie adaptation has been kicked around for years. There’s even the ill-fated spinoff, “Fear the Walking Dead”, which averages between 2 and 3 million viewers per week. If “Fear the Walking Dead” can shamble forth with only 2.5 million viewers, I don’t think fans of “The Walking Dead” have anything to worry about. But it doesn’t change the fact that the show is rotting, losing limbs of viewers each and every week.