UPDATED on Oct. 27 at 12:16 p.m. PT: “The Walking Dead” rose to 15 million total viewers in Nielsen’s Live+3 ratings, with 8.8 million in the key adults 18-49 demographic. In addition to the linear viewing, the Season 8 premiere yielded more than 1.4 million views across all AMC digital platforms and Xfinity during the premiere and subsequent three days, nearly doubling the digital audience of the Season 7 finale, and increasing 60 percent compared to the premiere of the second half of Season 7 in April.
“The Walking Dead” Season 8 premiere, also the show’s 100th episode, posted the series’ lowest premiere ratings since its third season.
According to Nielsen Live+Same Day data, the AMC series averaged a 5.0 rating in adults 18-49 and 11.4 million total viewers on Sunday night. The Season 3 premiere, which aired in 2012, averaged a 5.8 and 10.86 million viewers by comparison. This also means that the Season 8 premiere is the third-lowest in series history, ahead of only Season 2 and Season 1.
The Season 7 premiere drew an 8.4 and 17.03 million, meaning Season 8 was down approximately 40 percent in the demo and 33 percent in total viewers season-to-season. However, it should be noted that last season’s premiere was the resolution of a major cliffhanger, while the new season was not.
Including Season 8, all of the season premieres now rank, from first to last according to demo rating, as follows:
Season 5 (8.7, 17.29 million)
Season 7 (8.4, 17.03 million)
Season 4 (8.2, 16.11 million)
Season 6 (7.4, 14.63 million)
Season 3 (5.8, 10.86 million)
Season 8 (5.0, 11.4 million)
Season 2 (3.8, 7.26 million)
Season 1 (2.7, 5.35 million)
Nevertheless, “The Walking Dead” is one of few shows that could experience such a steep decline and still remain in solid ratings shape. Compared to the other top-rated scripted shows on television, it remains the number one show on television in the key demo.
CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” Season 11 premiere drew a 4.1 rating, meaning “The Walking Dead” outpaced it by approximately 20 percent. Likewise for NBC’s “This Is Us,” with the Season 2 premiere of that show drawing a 3.9, meaning “Walking Dead” was ahead by approximately 25 percent.
To be fair, though, both broadcast show premieres outperformed “The Walking Dead” in total viewers. “The Big Bang Theory” drew 17.7 million, while “This Is Us” drew 12.9 million.
“The Walking Dead” also continued to perform well on social media. The premiere was the most social non-sports program on broadcast or cable for all of Sunday, according to Nielsen Social Content ratings.