[This post contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 7 premiere.]
The premiere of The Walking Dead season 7 is continuing to provoke debate several days after first airing, proving that if anything will get people talking about a TV show, it's brutally killing off two main characters. The episode, titled 'The Day Will Come When You Won't Be', gave the show its second highest viewing figures since the series began and there have been plenty of positive responses from fans who loved the gory introduction to the new season. On the other hand, some fans felt that the premiere relied too heavily on shock value to make an impact - and our own review was unsure where The Walking Dead could feasibly go next.
Of course, AMC's primary concern will be the viewing figures and they will no doubt be delighted to have received such healthy ratings - numbers that go a significant way to justifying the decision to end The Walking Dead season 6 on a cliffhanger. Although many viewers were angry at the time, the amount of interest the cliffhanger seemed to generate has dispelled any notion of fans deserting the series en masse out of frustration.
In the modern world of television, it's perhaps unsurprising that when a show brings in strong official ratings, the number of people who watched the episode via illegal methods will also increase - and such is the case with The Walking Dead season 7. 17.03 million viewers tuned in to AMC to see which member of Rick's group had an appointment with Lucille, but according to piracy-tracking site Texcipio, the episode was also illegally downloaded 600,544 times in the 24-hour period after airing. In terms of geography, Brazil pirated the episode more than any other country, followed by France and then the United States.
Comparatively, The Walking Dead season 6's premiere was downloaded 569,772 times and some may argue that the increase proves that piracy is growing more problematic and prevalent as the years go by. However, it seems natural that when a TV episode draws in large legal viewing numbers, the illegal figures will increase accordingly - and although the number of pirate downloads of The Walking Dead has increased since last season's opener, the figures are roughly proportionate with the amount of people who watched on AMC.
Although The Walking Dead doesn't struggle to get renewed - season 8 has already been confirmed - for other shows, piracy can be a significant problem. The amount of people who watch the show illegally rather than via official channels can be the difference between getting another season or being cancelled.
Others will no doubt argue, however, that the significant number of people who pirated The Walking Dead's latest episode can partly be explained by their decision not to simulcast the premiere across the globe. In the past, other shows with a worldwide fan-base have aired important episodes internationally at the same time as in the U.S., in order to avoid worldwide fans seeing spoilers online. The fact that Brazil and France were the top-two areas for pirating The Walking Dead premiere this season, compared to the season 6 opener which saw the U.S. leading the illegal download charts, seems to suggest that at least part of the reason fans watched the episode illegally was to avoid potential spoilers.
The Walking Dead continues next Sunday with ‘The Well’ @9pm on AMC.
Source: Texcipio [via Variety]