‘The Walking Dead’ Season 7 Premiere Ratings: Huge, but Not a Record

The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode
Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead” premiere drew a horde of 17 million Americans on Sunday night, and a massive 8.4 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic. That’s a little shy of a record, which is still held by the Season 5 premiere (8.7 in the demo, 17.29 million viewers).

Compared to the Season 6 opener, that’s 2.37 million total viewers and an entire ratings point in the 18-49 demo higher, equal to about 1.28 million people in that age range. Presumably no one wanted to run the risk of being spoiled by social media. (The episode did draw a record-setting 8.7 rating in the 25-54 demographic — maybe some of the younger viewers aged up.)

It’s rare for a show in its seventh season to climb back up, much less for a show on a cable network to draw more than double the demo rating of a show like “Empire,” the current broadcast champ by that metric. Even Chris Hardwic’sk after-show “The Talking Dead” drew an absurd 3.7 demo rating and 7.6 million viewers over its 90-minute episode, in which the cast and crew of “The Walking Dead” worked through their grief in a rainsoaked cemetery in front of a large live audience. That’s bigger than every show on broadcast and cable as well.

The Season 7 premiere was not without its controversies, with large swaths of social media and the critical apparatchik decrying it as absurdly violent and nihilistic, even for “The Walking Dead.” Whether that was just the media echo chamber or a real protest on the part of a large portion of fans will be seen once ratings for subsequent episodes come in.

“The Walking Dead” has already been renewed for an eighth season.

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  1. CAnn says:

    My husband and I were totally disappointed! We have been fans from the first episode and have faithfully watched every show. But, that’s it …we’re done! This episode went too far!! It’s one thing to kill zombies and it’s easy to mentally disconnect from the brutality, but they crossed the line with the amount of brutality that was shown in the killing of a human by another human. If they wanted to write off Glen and Abraham, it could have been done it without the brutality and gore. I felt like I was witnessing two people being murdered! The amount of gore was unacceptable and all done in the name of entertainment..no thanks! We’re out🙁

  2. This show, I can honestly say, took a HEAVY emotional toll on me….I’ll admit I was super-pissed at the cheeseball way Kirkman and Co. strung the audience along last season with the Glenn crap mid-season and then that too-long cliffhanger fail to end last season, but jesus I’ve never seen anything that brutal on TV, and I was kind of in amazement thinking that what made it past the censors for this episode would have given a movie version of the same scenes a hard-R rating for graphic violence. The practical effects were top-notch, as always, but I’m reexamining if this show is entertainment to me anymore. I literally felt like vomiting after Glenn’s demise. It was like watching a family-member having their head crushed by a baseball bat. JDM’s performance, all the performances really, were superb as always, but again, I’m not sure if my being made to feel physically ill is what I need as far as a TV show. I know, I know, no one forces me to watch, but I felt the need to vent here just as a catharsis to what I was exposed to. There’s really nothing ever, really, to compare to. I felt like I was some kind of witness to two actual murders. Yuck. :)

    • This is what I was feeling by the end of last season. Is tuning in every Sunday just to see if someone dies what we have decided qualifies as entertainment? Not that the acting isn’t amazing and the special effects aren’t fantastic, but when does this stop becoming an exercise in seeing how far we can be pushed and instead become a title I can walk away from and feel I’ve taken something important with me?
      I feel the deaths have been gimmicky with introducing characters long enough to generate manufactured attachment, so that their deaths SEEM more emotional than they really are. Even with these two deaths, it was all part of a cliffhanger that left me rather empty. Yeah, it was hard to watch, but my emotional charge was kind of gone by the time the reveal happened. I was more emotional watching Rick which I felt took a little bit away from the departure of two really profound characters.
      I don’t know. A little goes a long way with me.

    • Claudine Harper says:

      I think that is the key – for some people this kind of thing just doesn’t fall under entertainment. It is clearly about personal taste here so some will react differently. It is irrelevent if the show has had previous gorey-violent scenes or imagery, or if worse things happen in real life, or if this is exactly how the comic book is….because we do not always see the real life violence around us and some don’t tune into the news because of it too (and whilst the wars and violence in real is serious, I am not sure we see this sort of laughing crushing of heads by a baseball bat every day). And some don’t read the comic books and what is drawn and the dislogue in comic books is very different once put onto live-action tv or film.

      The bottom line is for some this show is not entertaining, but a chore, making you feel ill, down and miserable and wondering what it’s all for. Most people, even if they are aware of real life events being awful, put on the TV for pure escapism, for that exact reason.

  3. loco73 says:

    Holly crap…even when there is good news for a show…like “The Walking Dead”…there always must be a downside…seriously…it wasn’t a record?! The fact that a show in its seventh season can still arrest this many viewers, especially for cable, speaks for itself.

    And complaints…geeeshhh…well let’s say that they are as moronic, fake, empty and idiotic as the people who make them!

    As Abraham said: suck my nuts!

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  4. Love bunny says:

    If you don’t like it, switch to another show! Simple as that! I’d rather watch this than anything “reality”, which is so FAKE! If you think this show is brutal, you need to go back in history and see how and why wars were fought, or how we stole from the Native Americans or treated slaves, or how animals are mistreated. This show doesn’t compare by far to REAL LIFE . So quit whining (like someone we know) and change the channel. A REAL horror fan doesn’t whine…..

  5. Barbara Wholey says:

    These numbers don’t even take into account people who would rather buy the show on Amazon than be interrupted continuously by inane commercials. I always buy it every year, that way I can rewatch it commercial free whenever I want.
    Also, my demographic is not included since I am 63 years old. The should start taking the older demographic into account since our numbers are growing year by year as the baby boomers age.
    I am always sad to see favorite characters killed off, some more than others, Glen is really hard and I will miss him and Abraham. The one that was the hardest for me to say good-bye to was Beth, Sweet Beth.
    But after all this time everyone who has followed this knows these will happen. Characters will get killed off, even ones that have been in the show a long time.

    • Barbara Wholey says:

      I have read all the other reviews here and I don’t understand what their problem is. They say they have been watching the show all along, but the violence is getting worse? They must have a hard time remembering previous seasons because there has always been this kind of violence in TWD, going back to season 1 and I remember all of it. I like this show and will continue to watch it. If you do not like it any more or find it offensive, stop watching it would be a good idea.

  6. jimmy says:

    This is a sordid,pathetic,hateful,sadistic & cruel piece of shit. Get off the drugs Hollywood. NEVER WILL WATCH AGAIN. ISIL WOULD BE PROUD OF THIS SHIT.

    • loco73 says:

      You know “screaming” in all caps doesn’t make your statement any more compelling…and just a reminder ISIL and it’s members do on a daily basis what Negan did , and he is fictional character on a TV show…and if you could keep that fact in perspective you have some hard times ahead of you…

      • Ak says:

        Omg..really? Its a fake…hello? fake t.v.show! lol..This scene , minus Abraham has always been in the comic! This wasnt made up just to put in the show. Stop whining, the actors are alive,lol.. wow…amazing comments,lol.
        Great show and I am glad it is still on and a huge success!

    • ISIL would prevent you from watching it you know because they are such an open inviting group concerned for your welfare.

  7. Cathy Zinn says:

    All shows that display violence have gotten more graphic. But this is what our society demands from programs that we are seeing either on our streets or movies and tv. we could do with less violence on our streets and especially our schools.

  8. Shannon says:

    I will not watch again. This episode was over the top – too graphic, too evil for me. I had to close my eyes and then left the room after the second beating. Plus they killed one of my favorite characters. No thanks, not a fan any longer.

    • loco73 says:

      Far worse happens on a daily basis all over the world…

    • So the weekly blowing walkers heads off is not graphic or violent?
      Bob getting his leg chopped off and eaten not graphic?
      Chopping off Herschel’s leg was not graphic?
      Terminus cannibals slitting throats was not graphic?
      Beth getting her brains blown out was not graphic?
      The Governor chopping Herschel’s head off not graphic?
      Dale getting his insides ripped out not graphic?

      Maybe it was just the fact one of your favorite characters got offed is the issue?
      If you knew anything about the story being played out in the comics you knew this was coming

      • Claudine Harper says:

        It’s a valid point you make and I would say there is not much in my defence other than those moments were graphic, but not drawn out or as tense as this whole 50 mins of it and the manner of these deaths. That is not saying those moments weren’t horrible and tense too, but this was more so. And that is it. Zombies getting hacked is not in comparison because they are fantasy figures, not people, so I don’t get upset when seeing the graphic violence done to them. It doesnt matter to me that this was already in the comics and a graphic novell is a different thing to a TV, where you have real actors and “people” shown. And the other thing is it’s overall a more grim atmosphere and the laughing of the murderer with it…at least the killers of beth and Hershal were not laughing and joking as they did it, so it is not the same. But it doesn’t matter, it’s just how i feel and yes i probably will stop watching if I am not getting anything out of it but horrible feelings.

      • Barbara Wholey says:

        Agreed, they should stop watching it.

  9. Paul says:

    The ratings will drop, as everyone tuned in only to see who died. And now that we know, we also know the show is still garbage and has nothing more to offer. It’s over, and will now slog its way into the pantheon of shows where people wonder “is that still on?”

  10. michonne says:

    Good. I hope Oscars ceremony keeps losing audience to TWD and in general. Go TWD!

    • Nibs says:

      You do know that Negan is a important character in the comics dottie? He had to be portrayed that way. Just be thankful the governor wasn’t so nasty as he is in the comics lol

  11. liberalmel says:

    It destroyed the NFL, and when all the DVR, ect, are added this will be huge and record breaking!

    What a great start to the season. People need to stop whining about the violence. Its a TV show based on a violent comic book. Go back to watching the Big Bang Theory, babies!

    • twsiebert says:

      It’s not just the violence. It’s the way the narrative is manipulated, the contempt for the audience, the bad dialog, the way torture-porn has seeped into television “entertainment” like a spreading pool of blood. TWD’s season premiere was possibly the most violent thing ever depicted in fictional American television. It’s not progress on any level to have created the most violent depiction of murder in television history. None.

      I originally watched the show for fun, pulp escapism, but over the years it’s degenerated into a weird mix of kitschy soap opera and nihilistic ultra violence. TWD has turned into a not very competently written or directed series that seems to be working to either alienate or numb its audience. I feel sorry for some of the actors, frankly, who are the only talent doing good work, and it’s a lipstick on a pig situation. I’m done.

      • Patrick says:

        You do know that the episode was almost exactly like its comic book? Even some of the camera shots mirrored the comic book panels, same with the dialogue from Negan. So is being faithful to the source wrong for television?

      • ton says:

        We love this show and will continue to watch until it gets boring or it becomes more of the same.

        My problem with the premiere is not the death of the main character nor the violence.

        My problem is the way they depicted the deaths. Sure they bashed Glenn’s head with barbed wire baseball bat but was showing his eyeball pop out really absolutely necessary to tell the story that Glenn is dying?

      • Interesting response.

        However as adults we all have a decision to make. Stop watching it which you clearly have decided to do.

        However you want true horror and brutality which occurs every single day? Turn on the evening news. Filled with it.
        Human beings are the cruelest most destructive species on this planet. The only species who kills for the sake of killing. In that respect the Walking Dead is true to life.

      • AG says:

        Good one, bonzoid! Gave me a good chuckle and I almost spilled my white russian…

      • Claudine Harper says:

        I agree too. It is now a chore to watch and torturous. I started watching it for the fun thrill, the wonder of what these characters would do in this situation. I am not sure this storyline speaks of what we would do in the same situation, because it’s so brutal and far gone that it is not something we can imagine ourselves in. In that case, it is not something “entertaining” to watch. We can watch horrible events, but to learn from them, to wonder what we would do or feel. We can with this, but mostly we are not…we are wondering how much are they going to show and what are the characters going to do and not so much how it relates or reflects on our own life…and yes we do this even in a zombie show, because we constantly wonder how we woulld survive the same thing. That put on top of the fact this group did some awful things leading up to this. I know that it is meant to be about that and it is meant to be their punishment which hopefully leads to their remorse, but it doesnt matter if watching that happen is this unpleasant.

      • Bill B. says:

        Couldn’t agree more. They’re frothing at the mouth for more violence and bloodshed over at the Hollywood Reporter site.

      • bonzoid says:

        Yeah, well that’s just like your opinion, man..

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