The ratings for The Walking Dead continue to slip, but this time the show posted its lowest ratings ever in a key demographic. While at one time not so long ago The Walking Dead was a ratings smash for network AMC that made all other basic and cable networks alike filled to the brim with jealousy, those days seem to be behind the show. Last week’s season 9 premiere hit an all-time low for the series as far as season premiere ratings go, shedding 50 percent of viewers compared to the ratings for the season 8 premiere.
This has been a running trend for The Walking Dead for a few years now, as reviewers and viewers alike criticized the show for dragging out storylines and killing off beloved characters in anti-climactic ways in an attempt to seemingly keep its “shock factor” alive and well. With the highly publicized departure (and potential death) of main star Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes as well as Lauren Cohan’s Maggie Greene by the half-way point, some believed that season 9 would see an end to the ratings decline. This has not been the case, however, and the second episode of the season, titled “The Bridge,” has continued the downward trend for the series ratings.
According to Deadline "The Bridge” posted a 2.0 amongst the key 18-49 demographic, the lowest ever for The Walking Dead. To put this in perspective, the previous holder of this record can be found way back in season 1 in the episode “Vatos,” which achieved a 2.4 in the same 18-49 demographic. “The Bridge” also dropped 19 percent in total viewership from the premiere, drawing in just 5 million eyes total.
It’s easy to argue both that aging shows often lose viewers the longer they’re on air and that the medium of television is dying thanks to the internet offering watchers other ways to catch up with their favorite series. However, the rate at which The Walking Dead is losing viewers is certainly a cause for concern for both AMC and remaining loyal fans. Provable, statistical reasons for the show’s decline in ratings are obviously unknown, but it’s easy to point at Lincoln’s exit from The Walking Dead as a major reasoning for this (though there is speculation that he could eventually return, assuming Rick doesn’t die).
It’s also important to point out that even with ratings slipping, The Walking Dead is still a major player in that department, especially for a cable show (factoring in delayed viewing is important too). Most other networks similar to AMC would absolutely love for season 9-era The Walking Dead ratings for any of their shows. So even with record low ratings, it’s safe to assume that, for the time being, The Walking Dead isn’t going anywhere (especially considering AMC’s expansion plans for the universe) though perhaps it’s time AMC starts plotting out an end point.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.