The Walking Dead’s live views are down, but that’s not the whole story

Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in Episode 4Photo by Gene Page/AMC
Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in Episode 4Photo by Gene Page/AMC /

The Walking Dead’s live views are down, but the show is still averaging 14 million viewers per episode. That’s more than double the ratings for every other genre show on TV.

The Walking Dead doesn’t have a ratings problem. While every week a new headline screams that The Walking Dead’s numbers are crashing that’s not really accurate. The ratings are still high enough to keep the show in first place.

Live views are down. But the show picks up between 3-4 million additional views each week when other types of viewing are factored in. The Walking Dead Season 7 episodes are consistently achieving an average of 14 million views each.

The show has come under fire this season for the broadening story arc, the deaths of Glenn and Abe, and the slower pace of the episodes following the brutal season opener. But all that criticism isn’t translating into a loss of viewers. At least, not as much as some people want to believe.

The Boycott Isn’t Affecting The Show’s Numbers

The movement to boycott the show based on the graphic deaths of Glenn and Abe isn’t as big as the creators would like people to think. There are many reasons why the show’s live views are down, but but a boycott isn’t one of them.

Every show experiences a little viewer loss each season. Even high performing shows that have strong fanbases expect to lose some viewers every season. New viewers will start tuning in, and some viewers will return to the show and eventually a balance will be struck. In general TV viewership is down across the board.

TV Ratings Falling

TV ratings for even the most popular shows have been dropping steadily for over a year. In the 2015-2016 TV year most shows experienced a drop in viewers of 10% or higher. Even high rated shows on major networks saw serious drops in their ratings.

The Big Bang Theory, one of the shows that typically has very high ratings, had a 10% ratings drop in 2015-16. Supernatural, another popular scripted genre show, had a drop of 14%.

People Don’t Watch TV The Same Way Anymore

Live views don’t reflect the total TV audience anymore. People are watching TV in other ways and in their own time. In 2015 more than 834,000 people dropped cable TV service. In that same year Sling TV, which allows people to watch TV shows streaming in real time, picked up 800,000 subscribers. Sling TV views are not counted in the live viewer totals for ratings.

Some viewers who have kept cable TV record the shows they like on DVR so that they can speed through the commercials or watch the show at another time. The DVR views are counted in the Live+3 measurement, not in the live measurement.

Keep Live Views in Perspective

American Horror Story, which is the second highest rated scripted genre show on cable, averages about 2 million viewers per episode. That means that even the lowest rated episodes of The Walking Dead this season have 4x more live viewers than American Horror Story.

More from Undead Walking

The Walking Dead remains the king of cable scripted genre shows. Even though the show may be experiencing some growing pains the ratings prove that fans are still loyal to the show. No other show comes close to dethroning The Walking Dead as the highest rated genre show on TV.