Coming out of Sunday’s tense, yet overly satisfying episode of The Walking Dead – the show’s 100th instalment, no less – much has been made about everything from those hidden easter eggs to why Rick didn’t take his chance to kill Negan. But perhaps more interesting is the ratings, which probably weren’t at all what AMC was expecting.
As the fallout from “Mercy” continues, The Hollywood Reporter has now revealed The Walking Dead hit a 5-year premiere low on Sunday night. Pulling in 11.4 million viewers, 6.5 million of which were in the key demo of 18-49, the show was down from last year’s 16.4 million – though it’s important to remember that the plus three and plus seven-day numbers have yet to be accounted for.
Still, this puts the season 8 premiere as the series’ lowest opener since season 2’s, which brought in 9.5 million. Subsequent premieres were at 14.4, 18.4, 20.1 and 18.9, before the aforementioned season 7 raked in 16.4. While The Walking Dead is still one of the most watched shows on television, you’ve gotta imagine that AMC finds these numbers worrying and is hoping that things will turn around as the season continues.
As for what the drop can be attributed to, well, it’s no secret that last year’s run was very controversial, with many viewers tuning out after Glenn and Abraham were brutally murdered in the premiere. And if that didn’t turn people away, then the slow, protracted pace of the remainder of the season probably lost the show even more fans. While Sunday’s opener was certainly a solid outing and a promising sign of things to come, it seems that the damage has already been done.
Still, The Walking Dead remains hugely popular in every sense of the word, even with the ratings drop, and season 8 will march on full steam ahead with the next episode, titled “The Damned,” on Sunday, October 29th. Additional episode titles and their respective synopses can be found here.