It’s no secret that The Waking Dead has been haemorrhaging viewers for some time now. The show peaked in seasons 4 and 5 when it would regularly pull in over 13 million US viewers per episode. Ever since the brutal season 7 opening episode where over 17 million people tuned in to see Glenn and Abraham get their heads caved in, The Walking Dead ratings have plummeted.
Lots of fans immediately tuned out. Season 7 figures dipped below most of seasons 4-6, back to around season 3 levels. Then season 8 started off fine with over 11 million viewers before every episode since has taken the show to less than 9 million per episode. They are still decent figures and The Walking Dead is still doing great business for AMC. But right now, it looks as though The Walking Dead is losing fans at an alarming rate.
The most recent episode clocked in with just 6.6 million viewers. That’s season 2 levels. Remember? That dreadful season where they were on the farm. Never mind.
What’s even more worrying is that usually there’s a spike for the midseason climax and comeback episodes. Not this time. Only 7.89 million tuned in to lean that Carl had been bitten and then the episode in which he died clawed in just over 8 million morbidly curious viewers. Make no mistake, season 8 is the clearest indication yet that fans are losing interest in The Walking Dead.
Winning back fans
So what can AMC do to win back fans? Is there any way for them to win back the roughly 5 million viewers they have lost since seasons 4 and 5?
Well, first things first. Negan has to go. The war with the Saviors needs to get wrapped up pretty quick. Ever since Negan brought Lucille to the party, viewers have been tuning out slowly but surely. Whether it’s because he’s too one-note, too cruel, or whether it’s because we just can’t forgive him for Glenn, he’s clearly not winning any fans like a good villain should.
Number two: stop making these massive and irrational deviations from the comics. Carl’s death makes no sense. He’s so important to the story going forward, and he always has been. If the creator Robert Kirkman had written it, we could (maybe) accept it. But killing off Carl was a dumb, unnecessary decision and the show and its ratings are suffering for it.
Possibly tied in with this, AMC is going to have start paying some of its leads more. Maggie could be out the door as actress Lauren Cohan has got another TV show lined up. Michonne could be next if actress Danai Gurira gets all the offers she deserves after her turn in Black Panther. Losing these two would be catastrophic for the show.
AMC have two options. Find the money to pay these stars what they want. Or if they’re all becoming too expensive, then the show will just have to wrap up. Even if the comics keep going forever. The only other option is to keep killing off the beloved but expensive characters; Rick, Daryl, Michonne, Maggie, etc until all we have left is a bunch of random (cheaper) characters that no one really cares about. And then we might as well just watch Fear The Walking Dead instead.