Hey, did you remember that AMC’s The Walking Dead premiered its eighth season this past Sunday? A lot of people did, to the tune of 11.4 million viewers (6.5 million of whom were in the choice demographic of adults 18-49), but an increasing number of people did not. The viewership for the premiere saw a 43% drop from a year ago, though the Season 7 premiere had to its benefit the frustrating yet brilliant marketing play of a cliffhanger resolution. Season 8 had little buzz going into its first frame and the premiere whiffed in its opening hour, giving fans little to talk about and less to be excited about.
As THR reports, the viewership numbers were still big enough to make The Walking Dead TV’s biggest hit in the adults 18-49 demo with a 5.0 rating; only the NFL outpaced it. Still, perhaps the decline is here for the post-apocalyptic zombie drama. The Season 7 premiere, keeping that earlier caveat in mind, was nearly a series high with 17 million viewers and 10.7 million adults 18-49. The series saw its best average viewership numbers back in Season 5 with 20.1 million viewers (13.3 million adults 18-49). Still pretty impressive. However, like all cultural juggernauts, even The Walking Dead will see its numbers decline until the inevitable bump for the final season and series finale, but that’s still a long way away.
Here’s how the average seasonal numbers (live+7) for AMC’s The Walking Dead have shaped up over the years:
- Season 1 - 6.9 million viewers (4.8 million adults 18-49)
- Season 2 - 9.5 million viewers (6.6 million adults 18-49)
- Season 3 - 14.4 million viewers (9.6 million adults 18-49)
- Season 4 - 18.4 million viewers (12.2 million adults 18-49)
- Season 5 - 20.1 million viewers (13.3 million adults 18-49)
- Season 6 - 18.9 million viewers (12.1 million adults 18-49)
- Season 7 - 16.4 million viewers (10.3 million adults 18-49)
These ratings can be paired somewhat with the series’ carousel of showrunners. Frank Darabont got the ball rolling (and has been mired in legal issues nearly the entirety of the show’s run), with executive producer Glen Mazzara taking over for Season 2. By the end of Season 3, the creative team and the network had a difference of opinion in their vision for the show, leading Scott M. Gimple to take over for Season 4 and beyond. Is another showrunner shake-up in the mix? Time (and ratings) will tell.