The zombie apocalypse is the least of The Walking Dead's worries right now as the series just scored its lowest ratings since its first season. AMC's flagship zombie show first premiered in 2010 and started out relatively low in the ratings, but it steadily climbed over the years thanks in part to the series streaming on Netflix. And while it's still a force to be reckoned with, it's no longer the juggernaut that it once was.
The Walking Dead started out with an average of 5.24 million viewers and a 2.7 rating in the 18-49 demographic in its six-episode first season. It got up to 6.9 million viewers and a 3.6 rating in season 2, eventually making significant jumps all the way to an average of 14.4 million viewers and a 7.4 rating in season 5. Unfortunately, that seems to be when The Walking Dead peaked. Since then, the ratings have steadily declined. The Walking Dead's season 8 premiere scored the lowest ratings since season 3, with the recent season 8 midseason premiere landing the lowest ratings for a midseason premiere ever. And it seems things haven't gotten much better for The Walking Dead, as they've now hit their lowest ratings since the show's first season.
Variety reports that The Walking Dead season 8 episode 10, "The Lost and the Plunderers," scored an average of 6.8 million viewers and a 2.9 rating in the 18-49-year-old demographic (based on Nielsen Live+Same Day numbers). Those are the lowest ratings for the series since season 1 episode 5, "Wildfire," which drew an average of 5.56 million viewers and a 2.8 rating in the same demo.
It's worth noting that the last time The Walking Dead garnered less than 7 million viewers was in season 2 episode 12, "Better Angels." That episode was pivotal to the series as a whole; Rick (Andrew Lincoln) was not only forced to kill his best friend, Shane (Jon Bernthal), but Carl (Chandler Riggs) also had to shoot a reanimated Shane. Clearly, The Walking Dead has suffered in terms of viewership, but it's not something that's concerning the show's producers. In January, The Walking Dead producer David Alpert defended the series by saying the brand hadn't lost any relevance; instead, audiences aren't keen on watching the series on the same night anymore.
What's interesting is that despite the constant decline in ratings, AMC appears to be more confident in The Walking Dead now than ever before, and that includes their confidence in all the people that run the show behind the scenes. The Walking Dead's current showrunner Scott M. Gimple is being promoted to Chief Content Officer of the entire franchise next season, which means he will soon preside over all corners of the zombie apocalypse. Because of that, co-executive producer Angela Kang will be promoted to the series' showrunner in season 9. And as if having two shows wasn't enough, Gimple recently promised to deliver more Walking Dead spinoffs in the future. What those spinoffs are exactly remain to be seen, but it appears that AMC isn't fazed by their flagship show's declining ratings.
The Walking Dead season 8 continues with "Dead or Alive Or" on March 11.