Can anything bring The Walking Dead back to life? That's got to be the question in the back of AMC exec's minds as the series slides to a new ratings low.
According to Variety, ratings for the ninth season mid-season finale that aired on Sunday night (Nov. 25) dropped even lower than those of last year's mid-season capper. The episode that aired two nights ago averaged a 2.0 rating in the adult 18-49 demo, with 5.1 million viewers watching.
Comparatively, the mid-season finale for Season 8 drew a 3.4 rating with 7.9 million viewers, which represented a series low until this week. When you place the two mid-season finales side by side, that breaks down to a 41 percent decline in the key demo and a 35 percent fall in total viewers between 2017 and 2018.
**SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers for this week's The Walking Dead follow below!**
That makes Sunday night's segment — in which Hilltop leader Jesus (Tom Payne) met a shocking death as new enemies the Whisperers were unveiled for the first time — both the lowest-rated and least-watched mid-season finale since The Walking Dead first started using the split season format back in Season 2 (the show's premiere year only featured six episodes).
The highest-rated mid-season finale came in the series' fifth year, when the last episode before the break averaged a 7.6 rating and a whopping 14.8 million viewers.
Despite generally more positive reviews this year, The Walking Dead's ninth season has been setting new records almost every week, and all in the wrong direction. The episode previous to the mid-season finale hit an all-time series low with a 1.8 rating, coming on the heels of serious declines in the episodes before that.
Even the much-hyped farewell of longtime lead character Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in Episode 5, while ticking up slightly, failed to stop this year's march toward the bottom. On the plus side, The Walking Dead remains cable's highest-rated show for the season, something that the network can point to with pride.
How long before the continuing decrease in ratings begins to seriously affect the show's advertising rates? That's what it ultimately comes down to. We also wonder if today's reveal of a new worldwide prequel series, the recent announcement of movies based around Rick Grimes, and yet-to-be-revealed further expansions of the Walking Dead universe are the wisest moves to make right now, given that interest in the flagship series is almost inarguably on the wane.
The second half of Season 9 of The Walking Dead returns on Feb. 10, 2019. Will you be watching?