The Season 7 finale of The Walking Dead certainly wasn’t riding on TV easy street on a Sunday that saw the return of WrestleMania, a steady Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS, the season-high-hitting Big Little Lies finale on HBO, the penultimate episode of Homeland‘s latest season and the series finale of Black Sails on Starz.
The nearly 90-minute “The First Day Of The Rest of Your Life” episode of The Walking Dead on April 2 snagged 11.3 million total viewers and 7.1 million among adults 18-49 for a 5.9 rating. While up 7% in total audience over its March 26 show and rising 10% in the key demo, the finale directed by executive Greg Nicotero dropped 20% in viewers and 14% in 18-49s from the Season 6 finale of April 3, 2016 – which saw double-digit declines from TWD’s all-time finale high of Season 5.
With all that competition Sunday night, the Live+3 results for AMC’s zombie apocalypse blockbuster might tell us the real reach of the April 2 season ender for the show based on Robert Kirkman’s comics. AMC should hope so: The Season 7 viewership and demo results are the third lowest in the show’s history behind the 5.97 million of the short Season 1 in 2010 and the 8.99 million of Season 2’s March 18, 2012 finale. Demo-wise, Sunday’s TWD is the third worst rating the show has seen, with the 3.0 and the 4.7 for the Seasons 1 & 2 enders delivering lower ratings.
Last year in L+3, the finale grew 30% viewership and 32% in the demo over L+SD.
Already renewed for a Season 8 that’s expected to debut this fall, don’t get too down in the end-of-civilization dumps for TWD. The show is still easily this season’s top-rated series on TV, both broadcast and cable, with a massive edge on the likes of The Big Bang Theory, Empire and breakout newbie This Is Us.
Apples to pineapple, the TWD finale, which saw the death of Sonequa Martin-Green’s Sasha by self-walkerization, was down 30% in the key demo and 34% in total viewers from the near record-breaking Season 7 premiere of October 23 last year. Coming off the cliffhanger of Season 6’s ending, that Nicotero-helmed “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” saw core characters Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) battered to death by Negan and his wire-wrapped baseball bat – setting up the season to Sunday’s uprising.