TV Ratings: 'The Walking Dead' Has Smallest-Ever Finale

The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 16 - Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan- H 2019
Gene Page/AMC

The bad news for season nine of The Walking Dead is that its lowest-rated season to date was capped by its lowest-rated finale to date.

The good news is that it remains head and shoulders above every other series on cable for the 2018-19 season to date.  

Sunday's snowy finale drew 5.02 million viewers and a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49 for its first airing. That's the smallest finale in the show's history; the previous low was just under 6 million and a 3.0 in the 18-49 demo for the close of season one. 

For the season, The Walking Dead averaged 4.95 million viewers and a 1.9 in adults 18-49 in Nielsen's same-day ratings, down 37 percent in viewers and 44 percent in the demo vs. the comparable season eight numbers. 

On the plus side, the finale bounced back from the prior week's series lows (4.15 million viewers, 1.5 in adults 18-49), improving its total audience by 21 percent and its demo rating by 25 percent for the show's best mark since its Feb. 10 return. It was also up 21 percent week to week in adults 25-54 with a 2.3 rating. (The season eight finale built on its preceding episode by similar margins, rising 19 percent in viewers and 21 percent in adults 18-49.)

Despite the season-long declines and a longer-term drop from the show's highs of season seven, The Walking Dead remains the No. 1 series on cable (excluding sports and news) for the season so far, and by wide margins. It draws more than double the number of 18-49 viewers (2.44 million) than its closest competitor, VH1's Love & Hip Hop Atlanta (1.2 million). 

The 16 episodes of season nine rank first through 16th among the top entertainment telecasts on cable this season in same-day ratings. That streak will likely fall in a couple of weeks when the final season of Game of Thrones premieres, but The Walking Dead's ratings declines haven't eroded the show's place as one of cable's biggest shows.

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