‘The Walking Dead’: Season Premiere Sets Series Record in the Worst Way

At the end of The Walking Dead‘s season earlier this year, everyone thought the show itself turned into the walking dead after losing Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and seemingly rebooting into something unrecognizable. In the opening of Season 10, they still managed to make the show its usual horrific self, including a few refreshing changes that could give it new life.

Norman Reedus arrives for the PaleyFest presentation of AMC's "The Walking Dead" at the Dolby theatre on March 22, 2019 in Hollywood.
Norman Reedus portrays Daryl Dixon in the AMC television series The Walking Dead. | CHRIS DELMAS/AFP/Getty Images

Apparently audiences didn’t think so since it was the lowest-rated season premiere in the show’s history. This no doubt took the producers and AMC aback since every season premiere from the beginning has been a consistent rating blockbuster.

Is AMC in denial about the show possibly coming to an end? Or is something else at play?

AMC shifted its vision

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From the outset, it may seem The Walking Dead came to a point where audiences no longer care about the newer characters after virtually everyone from the original cast — other than a few – were killed off.

According to AMC, world situations or audience fatigue simply don’t factor. The network said the low ratings were consistent with other low season premieres across the ad-supported television content. Their point is that regular TV with advertising is starting to be overlooked in favor of streaming where the same episodes are often available before or after the network broadcasts.

Some of you may know AMC has its own streaming service where they released The Walking Dead season 10 premiere a week early for members. AMC also says those who watch later still have higher numbers and staying consistent as they have been for a while.

As you can see, ratings aren’t quite so cut and dry anymore in a streaming world, not including those who DVR and watch later in the week. Regardless, ratings are probably even more complicated than this when you start to add in the sociological aspects.

Is the bleakness of ‘The Walking Dead’ making it less favorable for audiences?

There isn’t any question the darkness and feeling of dread The Walking Dead dredges up seasonally continues to be interminable. While some probably use the show as catharsis in realizing the characters have it worse than we do, it’s hard to imagine many want to keep watching after an onslaught of constant bad news.

There’s a real possibility some have turned the show off to find something more positive when the world sometimes looks upside-down in reality. Fans who’ve stuck with the show since the beginning are likely continuing to watch, making the number-crunching by AMC seem accurate.

Considering the show was already renewed for an 11th season before the 10th season even began, The Walking Dead is going to be around for a while longer. How people really feel about the show, though, might need a deeper analysis with more proof of who’s watching it and when.

With audiences so fragmented now, it might require some kind of data program to decipher whether the live low numbers were misleading or a real harbinger of something.

Will Maggie’s return help the rating of ‘The Walking Dead’?

After news that Lauren Cohan will return next season as Maggie Greene, AMC might have felt more secure in realizing ratings will eventually rise. After all, she was one of the most favorite characters next to Rick.

Cohan might be only returning because her ABC series Whiskey Cavalier was canceled, making it a fortunate situation for The Walking Dead grappling with trying to introduce new (and not necessarily appealing) characters.

If nothing else, we have to give the show credit for constantly reinventing itself with increasingly new names. Yet, many of the same themes are still in place, making some viewers likely exasperated at what the end will ever be for this nightmare scenario.

Dare we say the show may need to start bringing more feel-good moments and at least a hint of something positive to win over those who may feel reality is heading toward a similar landscape.