It was exactly one year ago today— October 9, 2018– that I wrote that ratings for the Season 9 premiere of ‘The Walking Dead’ were down 47% from those for the 2017 premiere. Those ratings were on par with the numbers pulled in by ‘The Walking Dead’s first season in 2010, which consisted of only six episodes. Since its debut, the show exploded into a pop culture phenomenon, and it was pulling the highest ratings on television, even better than shows on the regular networks. But what goes up must come down, and ‘The Walking Dead’ keeps falling lower and lower.
Last year’s S9 premiere drew 6.1M viewers. Sunday’s S10 premiere, entitled “Lines We Cross,” only attracted 4M. That was down 34% year-over-year.
The lowest rated episode of the series overall was “The Calm Before,” the 15th episode of S9, which aired on March 24 of this year. The ratings for “Lines We Cross” were 3% lower than that.
However, this is not the age of people watching live TV. Last year, prior to the S9 premiere, AMC reported a huge spike in subscribers to its AMC Premiere service. Those that signed up, for $5 a month, gained access to new episodes, including the premiere, a day early. AMC is once again reporting a spike in sign-ups prior to the S10 premiere, but they aren’t divulging the exact numbers. (Deadline reports that an insider states that this year’s sign-ups weren’t as numerous as last year’s but were still quite solid.)
This year’s AMC Premiere offer was even sweeter for fans– they got the premiere episode a whole week early, and subsequent episodes will be available 48 hours early, and some of those will be expanded editions, longer than what airs on TV.
AMC seems to understand that people are no longer plopping down in front of their TVs to live-watch shows and is exploring ways to reach audiences through alternate means. (Episodes become available on Sling the next day, for example.) Even with the declining live ratings, ‘The Walking Dead’ is still the #1 show on ad-supported cable among adults 18-49 and adults 25-54. The show has already been renewed for an 11th season, a new spin-off series will arrive in the spring, and a theatrical film is on the way, featuring Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes.
Are you still watching ‘The Walking Dead’? If so, how do you view it?