Typically, a television series heading into its tenth season would probably be seen as on its last legs, and for a series that has shed over half of its viewers in the last three years, that would be doubly true. However, that is not the case for The Walking Dead, because even with half of its viewers, it’s still one of the most popular shows on cable. In fact, it was the biggest show on cable in 2018, and it wasn’t even close. Moreover, while The Walking Dead spin-off Fear the Walking Dead is entering its fifth season next month, The Walking Dead “universe” has only been around a relatively short-period of time.
That’s why, even after ratings declines, and even after The Walking Dead has lost many of its central characters, the universe is still “early in its life cycle,” according to AMC’s CEO Josh Sapan, promoting the next generation of The Walking Dead, which will be seen in the universe’s second spin-off series, which launches next year.
“With its focus on the next generation of survivors led by two young female protagonists, we think this third series is really a spectacular story and a perfect gateway to advance the narrative of this universe in ways that are multi-generational, fresh and unexpected,” Sapan said. “And that will add vitality to the franchise for 5, 10, 20 years and more to come.”
Five, ten, or 20 more years of The Walking Dead? It’s possible, and it’s also possible the series moves on at some point without the flagship show. In fact, given the popularity of The Walking Dead internationally — revenues grew 53 percent internationally in the first quarter of this year — Sapan says that AMC is looking to expand The Walking Dead worldwide, and that might mean spinoffs set in places like South America or Europe.
It could be that The Walking Dead ends its run in three to five years, and the spin-off continues in its place, while AMC continues to create additional revenue opportunities in The Walking Dead: London or The Walking Dead: São Paulo for many more years to come. Increasingly, blockbuster movies are making more of their profits overseas than in America, and there’s no reason that a television show couldn’t follow the same model. The Walking Dead, more than any other show on the air right now, is best positioned to do that.