AMC Unfazed by ‘The Walking Dead’ Ratings Decline

Network AMC isn’t concerned by a decline in The Walking Dead ratings.

“Our decline has really mirrored the declines across basic cable — we just had higher to fall from,” Sarah Barnett, president of AMC’s entertainment networks group, told Vulture.

“The fact that we are still the No. 1 show by a margin of two to one is quite something. One of the things that I take such encouragement from is the fact that our ratings are pretty stabilized. We did see declines at the beginning of [Season Nine], but through all of the back half of this season, we are seeing the kind of stability that we’ve never really seen in this property before. We believe that we’ve hit a core, and that if that core sits around the numbers it is, it will continue to be a complete phenomenon in cable TV in 2019.”

Despite a decreasing viewership, The Walking Dead remains the top scripted series for Sunday nights, and is the only scripted series in the top ten as well as the only non-sports program to score above a 0.9 in the coveted 18-49 demographic.

“And we do believe there is audience and untapped creative opportunity within this show, and in exploring some new worlds and new characters that are related to this incredibly rich, strong universe,” Barnett said.

“The stability of the audience, the fact that it’s still such a powerhouse, and the fact that [Walking Dead showrunner] Angela [Kang] has been able to reinvent, reenergize the show in this current season is something that we feel genuinely excited about.”

The Walking Dead reached an all-time series low in live/same day numbers with Season Nine episode “The Calm Before,” a week before the Season Nine closer became the least-watched season finale in series history.

But Season Nine, under longtime Walking Dead writer-producer and first-time showrunner Kang, also delivered the series its highest level of critical acclaim in its near nine-year history.

AMC has since officially greenlit its third Walking Dead series, due out in 2020, playing into AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan’s long-term plans for the franchise.

The Walking Dead is a universe... and we have a plan to manage over the next decade, plus,” Sapan said in September. “That plan is a careful plan to respect the world of the fans of that world.”

And there are no expectations of slowing: a fifth season of spinoff Fear the Walking Dead is due out in June, to be followed by the tenth season of The Walking Dead, while the Walking Dead Universe soon launches its first film franchise anchored by Rick Grimes star Andrew Lincoln.

“We’re working on a number of things right now, they’re getting very close. We’re gonna have a steady flow of announcements through the rest of the year, and then 2020 is gonna be bananas,” Walking Dead chief content officer and franchise architect Scott Gimple promised on Talking Dead just two weeks ago.

In addition to overseeing the three Walking Dead series and the coming movies, Gimple in January declared plans for the development of additional films, specials, series, and other digital content that will explore the Walking Dead Universe across multiple time periods, many of which will be tied together in a true connective continuity.

AMC next premieres Fear the Walking Dead Season Five Sunday, June 2.

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