'The Walking Dead' Premiere Dips to Series Low Ratings

It's becoming a familiar story in the early weeks of the 2019-20 TV season: A veteran series posts significant declines in its return.

This time, it's The Walking Dead. AMC's flagship series began its 10th season Sunday with its smallest same-day audience ever, drawing 4 million viewers and a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49. The previous lows came with the next-to-last episode of season nine in March, which earned 4.15 million viewers and a 1.5 in the 18-49 demographic.

Sunday's premiere was down 34 percent from the season nine debut in total viewers, 35 percent in AMC's core demographic of adults 25-54 (2.9 rating to 1.9) and 42 percent in adults 18-49. The Walking Dead, which was renewed for its 11th season a day ahead of the premiere, still holds a sizable lead over every other show on ad-supported cable (excluding sports and news).

AMC notes that the 35 percent dip in adults 25-54 is in line with declines in that demo for the season premieres of This Is Us (-33 percent), The Good Doctor (-29 percent) and Young Sheldon (-38 percent). Ad-supported TV as a whole is suffering from sizable declines in same-day ratings as audiences both have more options for programming and more ways to catch up on series after they air.

Last season, The Walking Dead increased its 18-49 rating by 54 percent and total viewers by 48 percent after three days of delayed viewing. After seven days, the show's initial numbers were up by 68 percent in the 18-49 demo and 59 percent in viewers.

Sunday's episode was also available a week early to users of the AMC Premiere subscription service; subsequent episodes will be released two days before their on-air debuts.