This past Sunday, AMC aired the seventh episode of the final season of The Walking Dead. The show was once a ratings bonanza – the biggest show in cable history. Yet, this most recent episode continued to reveal the show’s slide as it hit its fifth week in a row under 2 million viewers.
Critical reviews of the show have remained high with episode 6, which was a completely horror episode focusing on Connie and Virgil and a mysterious and frightening home bringing in a 100% critical score.
Last season, the Season 10 Finale of The Walking Dead was considered one of the finest for a series finale for the show. In fact, it’s received an 8.5/10 from IMDB.com viewers and the season itself has a 90% critical score and and 84% viewers score on RottenTomatoes.com. However, even with all of the hype and promotion, viewers didn’t return to the show this past Sunday.
Previously, The Los Angeles Times interviewed Sarah Barnett, President of AMC Networks. Barnett has been AMC’s new President for approximately a year and knows exactly why viewership numbers for The Walking Dead have declined over the past few years.
The biggest show that Barnett inherited as President of AMC is The Walking Dead, its universe and spinoff shows. “I think there are endless stories to be told in this [The Walking Dead] universe,” she told the Times, while also confirming what Scott Gimple has already stated, the the Rick Grimes movie will have “a lot more ambition.” It’s clearly a good series upon which to continue building a network through its “evolutionary phase” because, as Barnett notes, “The Walking Dead remains, for all of its much-talked-about decline, by far the biggest show in ad-supported [cable].”
However, Barnett does concede that ratings have obviously fallen for The Walking Dead and she pinpoints what I believe is the exact right reason for it:
In terms of the quality question, I think that with 10 seasons of television — something like ER or Grey’s Anatomy — shows go through spurts. We’ve done a lot of research on the response to it and we certainly have our own thoughts about it. It’s true to say that that season with Negan [a mega-villain played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan] became a little too hopeless for audiences. I think that there was creative intention behind it that was really smart and thoughtful, but it I think it probably pushed people to a place where it was a lot to take at a time when maybe people just didn’t want to see that.
Is hopelessness really the reason? These seasons were the ‘All Out War’, finding Rick and the communities under the thumb of Negan. However, many of the complaints for the lackluster numbers range from the loss of Glenn and Abraham to the lack of believability and continuity in the story lines.
Showrunner, Angela Kang, certainly has improved the quality of the show since her arrival and taking the reigns from Scott Gimple, who is currently the Chief Content Officer for the world of The Walking Dead. In fact, the current season has the highest viewer ratings (not viewership numbers) of any season so far.
Why do you believe that The Walking Dead lost its viewership numbers? Does it really matter now that the show is ending?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.