The Walking Dead has seen some drastic changes in viewership since its strong season seven premiere.
The Walking Dead ended its sixth season with a cliffhanger, leaving plenty of people upset as they were left waiting for season seven to debut in October. Cliffhangers are meant to create hype and anticipation for the next season, this was an obvious decision.
The sixth season ended with Negan, a main villain from the comic books, executing a character with a baseball bat that he calls “Lucille”. The ending did not reveal who got the bat, creating a summer of discussion and speculation as to who died.
The season seven premiere had over 17-million viewers tune in to see which main character fell victim to “Lucille”. Now, after six episodes, the show is averaging only 11-million viewers per episode, which is quite a drop.
The premiere was criticized as being too violent and gruesome, with plenty of people saying that this kind of graphic material should not be on TV. This could be one reason why viewership is dropping.
Brandon Davis, a The Walking Dead writer at ComicBook.com says the premiere’s violence is playing a factor in the drop in ratings. But he says another reason as to why The Walking Dead is suffering a loss in viewership is the pace of individual storylines.
“The episodes with a singular focus make viewers feel as though the story is not moving at a satisfying pace, taking the attention off of what most fans are truly interested in (main characters such as Rick) only to build smaller characters and communities on a weekly basis,” says Davis.
TWD's miserable pacing has never been a secret but booooy has it been exposed in this season. Seems evident by the ratings decline.
— Dan⁉ (@ReignInDan) November 29, 2016
AMC has been airing extended episodes of The Walking Dead this season, which will allow for more story to be told, but that has not satisfied some fans.
“The extensions of several episodes actually offered up enough extra time for another episode to have aired, yet fans feel as though little has happened since the show’s return,” says Davis.
In the hit HBO show, Game of Thrones producers show multiple storylines every episode, and some fans of The Walking Dead feel the show would have a better pacing if it flowed similar to Game of Thrones.
“If The Walking Dead told multiple stories in a balanced manner the way Game of Thrones does, fans wouldn’t be left feeling as though the plot was not moving week to week,” says Davis.
There is still more than half of season seven left to air, so ratings could bounce back with the mid-season finale around the corner.
The Walking Dead airs Sunday at 9:00 p.m. EST on AMC.