We won’t likely discover until the fall which character took a fatal beating on the Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead, but we know now that the AMC blockbuster took a hit in the ratings. With total viewership of 14.2 million and 8.8 million watching among adults 18-49, the zombie apocalypse series’ April 3 season ender was down double digits from the all-time finale high of last year’s Season 5 ender.
Among total viewers, Sunday’s 90-minute “Last Day On Earth” episode declined just more than 10% from the March 29, 2015 “Conquer” episode, which was also around 90 minutes long and directed by executive producer Greg Nicotero. Unlike last year, TWD’s finale faced the 51st Academy of County Music Awards on CBS on Sunday, which itself was down sharply from 2015. In the key demo, the 6.9 rating that the April 3 airing snagged was down 16% from the Season 5 finale. In fact, in total viewership, the Season 6 finale was the lowest end to a TWD cycle since the 12.42 million Season 3’s finale saw on March 31, 2013. Among adults 18-49, the Season 3 ender had a 6.4 rating, just more than 7% less that the Season 6 finale.
Now, compared to the cliffhanger penultimate episode of March 27, the Season 6 finale rose 15% in total viewers and almost 20% among adults 18-49 — typical for finales. Within the season itself, the April 3 finale was basically even with the November 29, 2015 midseason finale in viewership and the demo. Total viewership for Sunday’ show was up 2% from that “Start To Finish” episode, while 18-49 went down a negligible 1%.
Despite a Season 6 that has seen dips and declines from the series’ previous ratings pinnacles, the show based on Robert Kirkman’s comics is still far and away the top-rated series on all of TV. Within the confines of this season that has just ended, Sunday’s finale was the second-most-watched episode of the entire run, with only the 14.63 million viewers of the 90-minute Season 6 premiere of October 11 last year doing better. Among 18-49s, TWD’s Season 6 opener, which was down from the year before, drew a 7.43 rating with 9.4 million watching in the targeted group.
Of course, AMC puts their emphasis on the Live+3 numbers, which have repeatedly shown double-digit increases for TWD this season. We should see those delayed viewing numbers by the end of the week.
The Walking Dead returns for its seventh season in the fall.