Let’s not rush to judgement on The Walking Dead ratings

Lennie James and Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead (2010). Photo: Frank Ockenfels/AMC
Lennie James and Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead (2010). Photo: Frank Ockenfels/AMC /

Lately it seems like there is a rush to point to The Walking Dead’s ratings but there is so much more happening behind those numbers.

There’s a lot of talk lately about The Walking Dead’s ratings. Most of it is conjecture and clickbait, to be perfectly honest. The data shows that the show’s ratings are still strong enough to put it at the top on a consistent basis, so why are so many media outlets so quick to pounce on signs that the ratings are declining?

Forgive me in advance for the rant. But as a fan of The Walking Dead there are things I need to get off my chest.

Sunday nights tend to be busy. There’s football, work to be done around the house before the work week starts and any number of other things going on. I know what I was doing on October 26: I was watching one of the best World Series games I’ve ever seen as the Houston Astros engaged in a maddening match race with the Los Angeles Dodgers before winning Game 5 13-12 over the Dodgers in extra innings. I actually had The Walking Dead playing on the AMC live stream while the game was on, but in truth I wasn’t watching The Walking Dead. It was on, but I was watching the game. Later on I went back and watched The Walking Dead on my DVR. But I didn’t watch it live on television.

This is part of the problem.

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Ratings these days aren’t what they used to be. Ten years ago ratings were supplied entirely by live views. Nowadays there are any number of ways to watch a show: live on television, via live stream, on a delayed DVR recording, on demand…the list goes on. So those instant ratings reports don’t mean a lot.

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Once the extended views get added in, then we can have a discussion. But let’s face it: There are a lot of things that require our attention, and so it’s not that people aren’t watching The Walking Dead. It’s just that they aren’t watching it live.

So while the numbers might be lower than previous years, let’s pause to consider that there are so many factors involved in deriving those numbers. Ask the TWD Family and they will tell you they’re watching. Let’s not be hasty with these snap pronouncements about ratings, shall we?