Starting strong with 17 million viewers for its Season 7 premiere on October 23, The Walking Dead dropped in ratings through the following five episodes before landing at 10.48 million in Episode 7x06 (Swear) and bouncing up to a slightly improved 10.58 million for the midseason finale (Hearts Still Beating).
The ratings matched some of the lowest since Season 3 in 2012.
The ratings slide has put AMC in the hot seat on Wall Street. The cable network's tentpole series is still the highest-rated scripted series in the key 18-49 demo but the viewership declines have caused a steep drop in its stock value. The significantly lower ratings for Fear the Walking Dead (averaging less than 4 million viewers, weekly) only fueled the fire.
AMC's stock closed the year at $52.34. It's a 30% loss over the course of 2016.
However, AMC is not alone in the loss category. Networks and studios also in the red include Viacom and Lionsgate. On the other side of the specturm, Disney and Fox saw small gains (each less than 1%) with platforms such as Netflix, Facebook, and Apple topping out at about 10% improvements. The biggest winners of the year were Time Warner (49%) and CBS (35%).
As for AMC and its flagship program, things might be looking up in the near-future. The Walking Dead returns for the second half of its seventh season in February with its main character finally set to take on the villain who has been oppressing him and his group through eight long weeks of viewing.
Furthermore, it seems the network has already tried to course correct where it can. Following overwhelming complaints over the violence feature in Episode 7x01 (The Day Will Come When You Won't Be) the network and production team elected to spare viewers of more violent takes in the midseason finale on December 11.
The Walking Dead returns for the rest of its seventh season on February 12, 2017.