According to Nielsen Live+Same Day data, the episode airing on Oct. 29 drew a 4.0 rating in adults 18-49 and 8.9 million viewers. Not only is that a drop of approximately 20 percent in both measures from the Season 8 premiere last Sunday, but it is also the show’s lowest ratings since Season 2. The most comparable episode to this week’s in terms of ratings was Episode 8 of Season 2, which drew a 4.2 and 8.1 million viewers back in 2012.
“The Walking Dead” was nevertheless the top-rated cable show of Sunday night by a wide margin. The next highest-rated show that night was aftershow “Talking Dead,” which drew a 1.4 rating immediately after its parent program. It also faced stiff competition from both NFL Football and Game 5 of the World Series. Also, the drop off between the second episode and the season premiere is comparable to those of past seasons of the series.
Still, the news is not good for the show, which already saw a large decline in its ratings for the Season 8 premiere, which was also the show’s 100th episode. That episode averaged a 5.0 rating in adults 18-49 and 11.4 million total viewers in Live+Same Day, marking “The Walking Dead’s” lowest premiere ratings since Season 3. That episode was also down by approximately 40 percent in the demo and 33 percent in total viewers from the Season 7 premiere.
Should the trend continue, the series’ claim to the top-rated show on TV crown could be in jeopardy, though there isn’t quite need to panic just yet. After two episodes, “The Walking Dead” is averaging a 4.5 rating. That still puts it far above the next highest-rated shows on TV, CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” and NBC’s “This Is Us,” which are averaging a 3.2 and 3.1 respectively at this point in the season.