The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere aired to a massive number of viewers, unsurprisingly. 17 million total viewers tuned in to see who met the end of new villain Negan’s very deadly bat, with the episode notching an 8.4 rating in the coveted 18-49 demo. That’s just shy of the show’s record of 17.3 million viewers and an 8.7 rating, which was set by the Season 5 premiere episode back in 2014. No matter, the Season 7 premiere episode’s performance was massive by any measure, and it scored its highest rating in the 25-54 demographic with an 8.7.
Numbers were also up versus the Season 6 premiere and finale, although that’s to be expected when you drag out a major plot point as a cliffhanger and force your viewers to wait six months to find out the answer. Indeed, fans were none too pleased to discover that while someone did die in the Season 6 finale, the show refused to reveal who, exactly, it was, teasing out that reveal in a very slow manner in the Season 7 opener.
Reaction to the premiere episode has been mixed. Some loyal fans are still firmly in The Walking Dead’s corner, while others found both the choice of victim and the brutality of the gore in poor taste. The show has been described by many as “misery porn”, existing simply to wallow in pity, depression, and overall misery with gruesome zombie makeup effects thrown in for good measure. Indeed there’s plenty of potential inherent in the premise of a series that takes place in the zombie apocalypse, but the producers seem keen on drilling down the “everything is terrible” theme over and over again to illicit the same response from viewers episode after episode.
Regardless of the critical reception, the show remains as popular as ever with viewers. It’s one of the most-watched shows on all of television, and was one of the turning points in this Second Golden Age of TV breaking out from the network mold and expanding into the cable TV realm. Shows like Mad Men and The Sopranos garnered critical raves, but not until The Walking Dead did the cable ratings numbers start to match—and surpass—those normally reserved for shows on NBC, ABC, CBS or FOX.
What say you, folks? Are you in with The Walking Dead for the long haul or was the Season 7 premiere the last straw? Sound off in the comments below, and if you’ve missed any of our premiere coverage, peruse the links.
- ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 7 Premiere Recap
- ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 7 Premiere Fallout: Cast and Crew Respond to the Brutal Episode
- ‘The Walking Dead’: Negan’s Victims Say Goodbye to the Fans in Farewell Videos