‘The Walking Dead’: Live Viewers Don’t Account for Full Ratings

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Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 1 -
Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Grab a seat. We’re going to talk ratings.

Reports circulated after the season 9 premiere (and second episode) of The Walking Dead that the series saw its lowest ratings ever.

Okay, so it’s technically true.

The season nine premiere reeled in 6.1 million viewers, a 23% decline from season eight finale which was aired six months ago. Season eight had 11.4 million viewers with 6.5 million being in the 18-49 demo.

The Walking Dead returned with the second episode of its 9th season with 4.9 million viewers. It fell behind Sunday Night Football.

At first glance, these certainly are unimpressive Neilson ratings as compared to previous years on Sunday nights.

They’re also a bit shocking.

The premiere was the lowest the series has ever seen, down 50% in its key demographic of adults ages 18-49. The only other time they have ever dipped under that was during the first season before it exploded into what its known as today.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that the decreased numbers are very misleading.

24 hours before its broadcast debut, AMC had already given episodes 9×01 and 9×02 to members of AMC’s premiere service, which means that most of the fans had already watched the episode before it was aired. Those numbers haven’t even been released.

Many people also strictly keep up with reviews and recaps of the show to remain in the know. Others read spoilers before Sunday night because they are now so readily available.

Therefore, the live audience might be a poor indicator of the show’s strength.

There is expected to be an improvement in viewership when DVR and on-demand viewing is included in Live ratings.

The season has been popularly known as Rick Grime’s final season, and reviews are quite positive, so this could also boost viewership. The previous seasons saw the show lose viewers due to a dragged out war between Rick and Negan’s groups. Andrew Lincoln will be on the show for a few more episodes, and we believe that this season could mark a brand new chapter for the series. If you’ve followed Rick from the beginning, now is definitely the time to tun back into his journey. We could see the numbers increasing as we say farewell to Rick Grimes in the coming weeks.

How the show will perform after Rick’s departure is what remains to be seen, but we’ll still be watching!

The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC.