The Walking Dead Season 9 Ratings Rot into New Lows
On the last episode that aired November 25, the midseason finale of The Walking Dead season 9 averaged a 2.0 rating in adults ages 18-49. This totaled 5.1 million viewers for the episode, according to Nielsen Live+Same Day data.
For comparison, the season 8 midseason finale earned the previous status of being one of the lowest-rated episodes in the show’s history. Looking at the numbers, that episode drew a 3.4 rating and 7.9 million viewers. Doing the math, comparing both of these two seasons’ midway points brings The Walking Dead season 9 midpoint finale to a steep 41% in the key demo, as well as being down 35% in total viewers compared to the last midseason episode.
This means that this Walking Dead season 9 episode is not only the lowest-rated midseason finale that the show has had to date, but it’s also made it the least-watched episode (so far) in the history of The Walking Dead.
Courtesy of the Nielsen ratings, let’s take a look at all the other previous midseason finale episodes, and how they stacked up:
Previous Season Ratings
- Season 1: The first season of The Walking Dead consisted of just six episodes. Thus, it did not have a midseason finale that each season from then on would have.
- S2: 3.5 rating, 6.6 million viewers.
- S3: 5.4 rating, 10.5 million.
- S4: 6.1 rating, 12.1 million.
- S5: 7.6 rating, 14.8 million.
- S6: 7.0 rating, 14 million.
- S7: 5.1 rating, 10.6 million.
- S8: 3.4 rating, 7.9 million.
- S9: 2.0 rating, 5.1 million.
However, this episode’s major lows for The Walking Dead season 9 has only been the breaking point. It had been filled with new lows in ratings and viewership for the last few months. For instance, the second episode of season 9 had officially set a new series low with a 2.0 rating. In the following week, it would budge down to a 1.9 rating.
However, this midseason finale already dipped further to a 1.8 rating. This solidified its status as the lowest-rated episode for the entire series.
But according to Variety, the show continues its domination as the highest-rated show on cable that night. Not to mention that the season currently ranks as cable’s top-rated show for this year.
The Walking Dead Has Been Stumbling Season After Season
Just looking at every midseason finale, the decline has been happening since Season 5. There has been a drop by a single digit every season thereafter. Sure, the fluctuations per episode vary, but the details are in the data.
Many fans could argue that Nielsen ratings can’t account for the viewership history for those not watching it via cable. The point is that the show has been seeing a decline in the last several years, leading up to season 6, and had likely reached its peak in season 5. Some may even say this led to major cast members leaving The Walking Dead after season 9. This including the man who’s been there since the beginning, Andrew Lincoln. Of course, it won’t be the end of his character, Rick Grimes, who is slated to have a trilogy of films that will begin production in 2019.
Like some fans have argued, The Walking Dead became an almost major cultural phenomenon in entertainment, and it all came from showrunner Frank Darabont. But Darabont would only get to see the show develop for its initial season. He was promptly fired during the development of season 2. The firing still echoes years after, as AMC has been involved in several lawsuits over Walking Dead profits.
As a fan who only stayed to watch season 1 and 2, the support and the early signs of quality drops in production and story now appear to be prevalent factors in the present, based on these ratings. But this does not seem to be stopping AMC.
Will Walking Dead Season 9 Ratings Dig A Deeper Hole?
The short answer is no. That’s because The Walking Dead is still kicking a higher stride in viewership and ratings compared to other shows on cable. With spin-offs, a dedicated fandom, and droves of merchandise, AMC shows no signs of stopping.
The Walking Dead showrunner, Angela Kang, told the BBC that the show is not ending anytime soon despite a slump in ratings. Kang said that the show will continue to develop as long as creator Robert Kirkman’s ongoing comic book series continues to provide “great source material.”
Like video game studio EA, AMC will continue milking the show’s profits until there’s nothing left, and until no one cares. Which, when one looks at the state of things, seems to be very soon.
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