While The Walking Dead remains the number one show on Sunday nights, by quite a large margin, it's been noted that the total viewership has been dwindling each and every week.
The season seven premiere debuted to 17.1 million people, and became the second-highest rated episode in the show's history. Since then, the number of Walking Dead viewers has declined. The fifth episode of the season, which aired last week, drew less than 11 million viewers.
That's the first time The Walking Dead has had less than 11 million viewers since season three. For a show that should continue growing as the material gets more intense, the numbers are reflecting a very different story.
It seems that long-time fans of the show are abandoning The Walking Dead? Why now?
Well, maybe many fans are keeping their promises.
After the cliffhanger of the season six finale, it was almost guaranteed that the season seven premiere would be a hit. However, once fans found out who died, they had no reason to keep watching.
If you watch the reaction videos from the premiere, a lot of fans said the brutality and heartbreak of the episode was just too much to watch. Many swore that they wouldn't watch the show again.
It looks like they weren't lying.
While audiences were upset about the outcome of the premeire, they held out hope that the series would recover from it. The trouble is, the show hasn't given them much to be excited about over the last few weeks. King Ezekiel was a nice, uplifting addition following the tragedy of the first episode, but he hasn't been seen since.
Rick has only been featured in one other episode, and Michonne has had little-to-no story in the season. To top it off, fan-favorite character Daryl is on the chopping block, and fans aren't given much insight toward his well-being.
These stories may be necessary to getting the show where it needs to be, but leaving multiple episodes between storylines is just starting to bother fans.
Think about this week's episode. Tara and Heath are about to don the screen for the first time since season six. With all that's going on with Negan and The Saviors, many fans wonder why they should even care.
The pacing of the season has seemed very out of whack, and audiences are responding accordingly. The funny thing is, The Walking Dead hasn't always used this split-up tactic to tell multiple stories.
Think back to season four. Remember when everyone was separated and headed to Terminus? Each episode shared pieces of every character's story, so fans were excited to tune in every week. This season, everyone knows that an episode will be solely about Hilltop, or Tara, and they will just try to skip it.
The problem here, is that skipping an episode snowballs into skipping the show. Once you miss one, it's not part of your routine any more. You might think you want to watch the next episode, but your inner-fan will want to watch the previous episode first. Eventually, you've missed the whole season and are waiting for the episodes to hit Netflix before you catch back up.
The Walking Dead is on the verge of losing the majority of its audience. Heading into a winter break, this is the last place they want to be.
Hopefully, the next two weeks can get fans excited again, or The Walking Dead could be in for a miserable Spring.
MORE WALKING DEAD: Carl's Mom Addresses His Rumored Departure