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AMC’s iconic zombie drama The Walking Dead has been in a downward ratings slump for years now. Now, despite a momentary spike after Rick’s departure from the show, things seem to still be on the decline.
With its multitude of unexpected deaths, “The Calm Before” (Season 9's penultimate episode), seemed to pull out all the stops on making its pre-finale bigger, messier, and more shocking than ever. But viewers didn’t sit up and take notice, at least on the night it aired. According to TV By the Numbers, the show fell to a 1.5 rating (with about 4.15M viewers) in the demographic of adults between the ages of 18 and 49. It was still the highest rating among original cable shows on Sunday, beating out basketball and Food Network shows, but still a far cry way from TWD’s heyday.
Back in Season 5, the show averaged at 14.38M viewers an episode with demo ratings hovering around the mid-7s. That’s huge. Game of Thrones’ final season has only averaged around 10.26M. Those big numbers are a long way from where the long-running show is now, but seeing as TWD still sits atop the pile of overall cable dramas, it shouldn’t have to worry too much. In fact, with Game of Thrones entering into its final season, The Walking Dead could just continue scraping by with its current numbers (though they’re just a hollow walker version of their lively peak viewership) and still be a success.
But with all the changes coming to the show and the franchise at large, it’s clear AMC is looking to shake things up in order to recapture some of that mid-show success — or kickstart some new versions of the franchise while they attempt to make the next big cultural phenomenon over at AMC.
The Walking Dead airs its season finale, "The Storm", on March 31.