David Alpert, the CEO of Skybound Entertainment, the production company behind AMC’ s The Walking Dead, is not worried about the declining ratings of their biggest hit show. Fans of The Walking Dead should not worry, either.
“I don’t think in any way the brand has lost its relevance in general,” he said. “I think we’re just seeing a decline in urgency across all media to consume something at a specific time.”
In other words, Alpert is saying, it’s not that ratings for The Walking Dead have dropped precipitously this season, it’s that more people are watching the series on their DVRs, or on Netflix, or through other streaming outlets. Alpert remains optimistic about the future of The Walking Dead.
“The ability to connect digitally with our fans to find out what they want and serve them content from great creators, media agnostic — it’s not a little idea, it’s a huge idea,” Alpert said. “We could be the media company for the new millennium.”
Alpert is not wrong about The Walking Dead’s ratings, either. While the mid-season finale was seen live by the lowest number of viewers (7.8 million) since the second season, once DVR viewership is accounted for, more than 12 million viewers witnessed the death of a major character. To put that in perspective, the Sunday Night Football game between the Steelers and the Bengals airing that same night was seen by only 11 million people. Moreover, the next highest rated weekly program that week — after seven days of DVR viewership — was Talking Dead, which was seen by 4.4 million people. The next highest rated scripted program was Major Crimes, which was seen by 4.3 million viewers.
In other words, The Walking Dead nearly tripled the viewers of its closest scripted competitor.
Add to that the fact that The Walking Dead was the second most pirated series of 2017 and the second most popular show on iTunes in 2017. In all categories, it is still running neck-and-neck with Game of Thrones for the most watched show on cable, and while Game of Thrones has only six episodes left, there could be another six seasons (or more) of The Walking Dead.
That’s not to say that there isn’t some cause for concern. While The Walking Dead continues to dominate against the competition, ratings for the midseason finale were off 3 million viewers from the 15 million people who watched the midseason finale in December 2016, even once DVR-viewership is accounted for. Likewise, The Talking Dead shed about 400,000 viewers, year over year. All things considered, however, The Walking Dead remains a very healthy franchise, and with Lennie James moving over to the much improved and creatively surging Fear the Walking Dead, the entire universe should continue to see robust viewership in 2018.