There were a lot of scalps this year on The Walking Dead, including the ratings for the Season 9 finale.
From the exits of Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan to time jumps, the partial upcoming departure of Danai Gurira and an iconic massacre, the latest run of the AMC zombie apocalypse series has successfully reset in many ways, but took a big hit with Sunday’ “The Storm.”
Having pulled in 5 million viewers overall and 2.4 million in the 18-49 demographic for a 1.9 rating, TWD fell to an all-time finale low with the March 31 Greg Nicotero-direct episode. While up double digits from the penultimate and bloody “The Calm Before” of March 24, the Season 9 ender fell 37% in viewers and 44% in the key demo from the Season 8 finale of April 15 last year.
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Put another way, the just over one-hour Season 9 ender is down 16% in total sets of eyeballs from previous season finale low of the Season 1 “TS-19” ender of December 5, 2010.
Already renewed for a tenth season with a new spinoff and a few Lincoln-led Rick Grimes movies in the mix too, TWD is clearly not going to get the chop from its AMC overlords anytime soon. However, from last year’s Season 8 “Wrath” finale veering close to a finale low itself, this season has seen the series based on Robert Kirkman’s comic stumble to new lows on a number of occasions.
While still the top-rated show on cable and top tier on TV overall, TWD has come down a long way from the dizzying heights of the series high of 17.3 million who watched the Season 5 “No Sanctuary” opener of mid-October 2014. Times have sure changed from the 15.8 million who tuned in for the Season 5 “Conquer” finale on March 29, 2015. With a few exceptions like Game of Thrones, live + same day declines have become a strong fact of life on the small screen in recent years with delayed viewing, streaming competition, subscription-based previews and simply more options, channels and platforms for the audience.
Add to that, the raw fact is that the now Norman Reedus-led Dead is nine seasons in, a place where most shows have exited stage left, so to speak.
On the flipside, the Season 9 finale was up 21% in viewers and 25% among the 18-49s from the week before, a not insignificant rise by any measure for any season. It is also a small bump from what the Season 8 finale achieved from its penultimate episode last year.
Conscious of the realities of television today, AMC isn’t so keen on immediate ratings anymore. The cabler prefers to wait a few days for Live + 3 numbers to land. A tactic that makes sense when you consider that Season 9 has seen the biggest rates of time-shifted results for the series ever. Looking at the most recent episodes of The Walking Dead, excluding the finale, the show has gone up an average of 47% in viewers and 52% in the key demo in those Live + 3 numbers.
Or, to put it another way the old Dead still has a lot of life in it.
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