For all its problems, The Walking Dead Season 7 was still the highest rated show on TV. While AMC’s crown jewel has experienced multiple ups and downs both critically and when it comes to fan opinion over the course of its 7-year run, that hasn’t stopped the apocalyptic series from carving out a spot for itself at or near the top of the ratings pack for the majority of its time on the air. It has truly been a pop culture phenomenon, regularly topping not only every scripted offering on cable, but on the big four broadcast networks too.
With Season 7 now over, it seems fair to say that it proved to be the most divisive season yet among diehard fans. Many took issue with things like Negan’s sickeningly brutal kills in the season premiere, the relentlessly downbeat nature of nearly every episode spent under Negan’s rule, and the long-term separation of Rick’s core group of survivors. And the ratings seems to have reflected that, with a massive drop as the year wore on. Despite all these issues, though, millions of people are still tuning in for each new episode, even if sometimes isn’t quite as many millions as before.
Deadline reports that after the Live+3 ratings had been fully calculated, The Walking Dead Season 7 remained the highest rated scripted show in all of TV. This is the fifth year in a row that TWD has held that title, with the series becoming the first drama ever to take the top spot among the prized 18-49 viewer demographic for this many consecutive years.
On the minus side, The Walking Dead definitely experienced a clear pattern of ratings drops during Season 7, begging the question of just how long the series will be able to keep dipping before it finally falls out of the #1 spot on the Nielsen charts. On the other hand, it’s not necessarily impossible to imagine that a really well-received Season 8 could succeed in stopping the ratings bloodshed.
It may be a case that catch-up viewings are skewing the numbers. While the Live+Same Day numbers for last Sunday’s finale represented a five-year low for a TWD season wrap-up, the Live+3 numbers for the finale saw huge gains made from the initial numbers, rising nearly 40% in both the key demo and total viewers. This is a much larger gain in the Live+3 numbers than was received by previous season finales, suggesting that while people aren’t as desperate to see the show live, many are still tuning in.
The Walking Dead returns for Season 8 in fall 2017.