‘The Walking Dead’ Ratings Loss Could Be A Result Of The Digital Age And Not Season 7 Story Faults

For many fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead, Season 7 was not their favorite season. They felt the season dragged as momentum was built leading into the conflict of the Season 7 finale. As a result of this, ratings dropped for Season 7. But could there be another reason for this?

SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses Seasons 6 and 7 of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Please proceed with caution if you wish to avoid spoilers.

Season 6 of AMC’s The Walking Dead ended with a massive cliffhanger. Episode 16 saw Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) step forward and bash to death a main character. For fans of the comic books, it was expected. For those who only watch the television version of The Walking Dead, it was shocking. However, AMC decided to end the episode — and Season 6 — by not revealing who was killed by Negan.

This meant that fans had to wait until the Season 7 premiere to find out whether AMC stayed true to the comic books or not. This annoyed many fans who felt the wait was merely a marketing campaign to get viewers to tune in for Season 7. And, in a way, it was. It also worked. According to TV By The Numbers, 14.19 million viewers tuned in for the Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead. By the Season 7 premiere, this number had grown to 17.03 million.

AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Season 7, Episode 1
[Image by AMC]

However, over the course of Season 7, viewership dropped. By the time the finale aired, only 11.31 million viewers remained according to TV By The Numbers. While that is still a decent amount of people tuning in to watch, and certainly not a figure warranting cancellation by AMC, it is still a worrying trend considering the show usually grew in numbers from season to season.

According to the general consensus on social media, fans were tuning out due to the slow-moving storyline in Season 7 of The Walking Dead. Fans were sick of seeing Rick’s group being knocked down repeatedly by Negan’s group and felt the show was dragging things out for the eventual conflict that was anticipated in the Season 7 finale.

But now, AMC has offered up another reason as to why fans might be tuning out. According to Forbes, AMC suggests the drop in viewership could have more to do with the current digital age rather than lackluster storylines. AMC’s CEO, Josh Sapan, assures fans that The Walking Dead will still continue for some time. However, he explained that the dropping numbers are a result of a decline in internet TV subscriptions.

“We’re seeing an offset of subscriber decline through internet TV subscription, I think it’s likely to accelerate [as] prices adjust, as packages adjust, as offerings are customized, and so-called disrupters enter the market and offer varieties of packages that may take hold.”

AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Season 7, Rick Grimes
[Image by Gene Page/AMC]

While this does seem like AMC is just trying to explain away their woes, Forbes points out that there is actually a trend leading to a loss in viewership numbers across the board, not just in regard to The Walking Dead. Every year, Vulture tracks programs from across the networks to see how they fare. They have seen a steady decline in viewership over the last four years, as a result. However, this year is the worst so far and they note that 27 returning shows had a “ratings loss of 25 percent or larger.” As Forbes points out, if you compare the ratings loss The Walking Dead received for Season 7, it is “probably close to 15-20 per cent down from last year, and maybe 25-30 per cent down from its peak in season 5,” indicating that, while the rating loss is not great for AMC, it is still better than some other returning programs this year.

Do you think the ratings drop for The Walking Dead has to do with the digital age, or is it more to do with the content in Season 7? Let us know your thoughts and theories by commenting below.

The Walking Dead returns to AMC for Season 8 in the fall of 2017.

[Featured Image by AMC]