'The Walking Dead' Season 9 Premiere Ratings Sliced in Half

Despite the heavy advertising heading into the final season of Rick Grimes, The Walking Dead's latest premiere suffered a massive blow to its ratings, delivering half of its audience from last season.

Sunday's Season 9 premiere on AMC saw a total of 6.1 million viewers tune in live, with 3.2 million of those viewers coming from the 18-49 demographic. According to TheWrap, that's down 23 percent from its overall audience in the Season 8 finale earlier this year, and down 27 percent in the demographic.

This continues a terrifying skid for The Walking Dead in a very short amount of time. This time last year, 11.4 million people tuned in for the Season 8 premiere, 6.5 million of those folks coming from the demo.

These ratings make Season 9 the lowest-rated Walking Dead premiere since Season 1, all the way back in 2010. The series premiere drew 5.35 million viewers, and the Season 2 premiere saw 7.26 million tune in. Ever since then, every premiere has garnered more than 10 million viewers. That trend came crashing to a halt on Sunday night.

Despite being low for a Walking Dead premiere, the episode was still Sunday's top series on cable TV for adults between 18-49. The horror series has held that crown for seven consecutive years. Another silver lining to take away from this is that AMC did release the Season 9 premiere on AMC Premiere, its commercial-free upgrade option, 24 hours before the live airing of the episode. AMC Premiere saw the single highest day of sign ups in its history ahead of the premiere, so it's likely that the service took away from the numbers of the live Walking Dead episode.

Walking Dead's latest season is all about giving the series a new beginning, as characters like Rick and Maggie make their way off the show. Of course, this puts a strain on several relationships, particularly the one between Rick and Daryl, long time best friends and self-proclaimed brothers.

"I think these two characters, they're brothers, and brothers don't always agree," said showrunner Angela Kang. "The beautiful thing about people who love each other so much is they can just tell each other truth in a way that people who aren't as close might tip toe around the truth. Norman and Andy playing those roles, they did such incredible, beautiful work. They rehearsed so much and just really nailed every little emotional beat of that scene. They were excited to play it because they don't disrespect each other. It ends in a friendly way. There's pain, there's disagreement, there's different philosophies. That's true to life. That's true of families and friendships in America and all over the world."

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The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. For more updates and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter!