It’s been no mystery that The Walking Dead has been struggling with its ratings ever since the beginning of season 7 two years ago (now that it’s officially 2018). Earlier seasons were viewed live much more compared to the past two seasons, which has raised concerns that the show won’t make it much longer, despite the fact that its source material is still far from being concluded. The first half of the eighth season has the lowest ratings since 2011, but one of the show’s producers has defended this drop in viewers with some sound reasoning.
David Alpert, one of the producers for The Walking Dead, told Variety that the live numbers which determine a show’s rating can be misleading due to the fact that a lot of people watch shows on-demand.
“I don’t think in any way the brand has lost its relevance in general. I think we’re just seeing a decline in urgency across all media to consume something at a specific time. I still get people coming up to me at conventions talking about, they’re in the middle of season six. They can’t believe what’s going on.”
Alpert makes a good point here: people are running on different schedules, so sometimes it’s hard for them to watch their favorite show live. I’m definitely guilty of this; during the night when most shows are on I’m writing or doing something work-related. I simply cannot watch most shows on cable live, so I record them. For shows on Netflix or HBO, the live number that’s so important for titles airing on networks such as ABC, TNT, or Fox is especially relevant to this discussion. Game of Thrones, which airs on HBO, is available on-demand on HBO GO after (and during) it airs live. A lot of people prefer to watch it on-demand because of the convenience the service provides. The same can be said for The Walking Dead, as an extra 3.6 million viewers were added on to the mid-season finale when taking into account DVR numbers.
The Walking Dead has been dropping viewers, though, and there’s no denying it. The 7.9 million broadcast viewers that tuned into the season 8 mid-season finale this year dropped from the 10.58 million viewers that watched the season 7 mid-season finale in 2016. When taking into account these numbers, it’s hard to say if the show will last. But, considering the amount of source material the creators have to work with, and the fact that there are still numerous fans out there, I have a feeling that AMC won’t get rid of the zombie apocalypse drama just yet.