The Walking Dead Ratings Hit 5-Year Low: What's Happening?

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AMC's The Walking Dead aired its second episode, "The Damned" on Oct. 29. But the episode's title appears to be the fate of the zombie drama as it suffered its worst ratings since Season 2.

The show, once a monster hit for the network, has seen a slump in ratings since Season 7 after some controversial story decisions and character interactions failed to resonate with audiences. The series seems to be continuing its downward trend as its ratings have dropped to its lowest in five years.

While 11 million viewers tuned in to watch the Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead on Oct. 22, the second episode managed to draw only 8.923 million viewers, suffering a 20 percent drop in ratings. It has been the lowest since Season 2's Episode 12, which aired in 2012, registering a viewership of 6.89 million.

However, this Sunday's episode, which was packed with a number of action sequences and also saw the return of a fan-favorite character, still managed to score a 4.0 rating in the key 18-49 demographic, and was the top-rated show on cable by a country mile. Next in line was the Chris Hardwick-hosted The Walking Dead aftershow Talking Dead, which hauled in 3.2 million viewers and a rating of 1.4.

The Walking Dead could have suffered a hit in ratings for two possible reasons: American football and baseball: Apart from the usual Sunday Night Football, there was a big World Series game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros at the same time on Fox.

The popular post-apocalyptic zombie drama already saw a huge decline in viewership for the Season 8 premiere, which also marked the show's 100th episode. The premiere averaged a 5.0 rating for the same demographic and suffered the lowest premiere ratings since the third season.

The ratings of the premiere episode, titled "Mercy," were also lower by 40 percent in the demo and 33 percent in total viewers than the Season 7 premiere, which is when Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) bashed Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) with a baseball bat.

If this downward trend continues, it could be a cause for concern for the network, but there is no need to panic anytime soon. With its "All Out War" tagline, this season promises more action, violence and character deaths, but it remains to be known whether that will be enough for the series to win back its viewers.

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