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The Walking Dead is still a tough act to follow, but it’s definitely trailing its own heyday. Sunday’s midseason finale, while avoiding another season low, brought in 25 percent fewer viewers than the comparable episode last fall.
Episode eight of the zombie drama’s eighth season averaged nearly 7.9 million viewers and a 3.4 rating among adults 18-49 in live-plus-same day returns. As it stands, that’s the lowest-rated finale, midseason or otherwise, since the series’ second year, which aired all the way back in 2011. The most recent live score is still up a shade from the previous week’s season low, which marked The Walking Dead‘s smallest audience in six seasons, but it’s one of the clearest signs yet that the show is on the downturn.
The good news — and there is still quite a bit of it — is that the series still ranked No. 2 for Sunday night, trailing only NBC’s Sunday Night Football. (The Walking Dead did, at its peak, outrate the NFL.) There’s also going to be considerable time-shifting for the episode, likely buoyed by interest in a cliff-hanger.
Time-shifting has been giving The Walking Dead bigger boosts in recent seasons, as many lingering fans have opted to watch on their own schedule. The most recent episode, for example, saw its audience jump 45 percent in just three days — climbing to 10.7 million viewers.
Still, the trophy of highest-rated drama is only loosely within its grasp. Game of Thrones, by HBO’s decidedly different metrics of gross viewership, easily outpaced The Walking Dead with its penultimate season in 2017. It will now be up to final live-plus-seven day averages for this recent run to determine where The Walking Dead stacks up against broadcast’s highest-rated series such as NBC’s This Is Us and CBS’ The Big Bang Theory.
The Walking Dead will pick up its eighth season in the spring.
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