Despite throwing in some surprising plot twists, The Walking Dead season 8's midseason finale still came up short in the ratings. In fact, TWD's midseason closer scored the lowest ratings for such an episode since way back in season 2. Fans will recall that TWD season 2 was the first to even have a break between halves of the season, and the series falling back into that kind of ratings territory is definitely not a good thing.
Sadly, The Walking Dead season 8 has been on a downward trend overall, both in the ratings and when it comes to overall sentiment from both fans and critics. While TWD remains one of the most watched shows on TV, one wonders just how far the numbers will be allowed to fall before showrunner Scott Gimple and the rest of the creative team decide to drastically alter their plans for the future. To be fair though, linear TV ratings continue to be down pretty much across the board, thanks to the continuing trend of cutting the cable cord.
According to Variety, TWD's midseason finale - entitled 'How It's Gotta Be' - earned a 3.4 rating among the prized demographic of viewers aged 18-49, and was watched by just under 8 million total viewers. That's up a tad from last week's season low, but down slightly from 2011's season 2 midseason finale. That episode earned a a bit higher 3.5 18-49 demo rating, and drew in 6.6 million total viewers. While the total viewership for Sunday's episode was better than season 2's, it's well-known that the 18-49 number is the most important to advertisers.
As if that weren't enough bad news, the overall ratings trend for The Walking Dead season 8 continues to be a source of worry. The first half of season 8 averaged a 3.9 in the 18-49 demo and 8.7 million total viewers per episode. That's way down from TWD's average numbers for the first half of season 7, which were a 5.7 among 18-49-year-olds and just over 12 million total viewers per episode. When one considers that season 7 also sustained several drops from where the numbers were for season 6, the pattern becomes alarming.
Despite these worrying ratings trends, the fact remains that TWD still has a ways to fall before AMC would probably even consider canceling it. A 3.4 may not be impressive for The Walking Dead, but it still handily bests just about everything else on TV, including most scripted programs on the big broadcast networks. In a world where FOX's highest rated drama averages less than a 2.0, and even CBS' hit comedy The Big Bang Theory currently averages a 2.9, AMC would be crazy to not continue riding the Walking Dead franchise train until it finally derails completely.
The Walking Dead season 8 returns on February 25, 2018.