For its seventh season, The Walking Dead was deconstructed to allow for the introductions of new locations like The Kingdom, The Sanctuary and Oceanside, and the furcated storylines will form a cohesive whole once more when the show returns in 2017. Changes like that almost always result in viewership blips, and The Walking Dead faced its first big downward slide in ratings this season, falling in line with overall declines across TV in 2016. But while audiences seem to be falling away from Sunday night airings specifically, The Walking Dead is still killing it in Live+7 delayed viewings.
The Live+7 numbers have been released for the week of November 28-December 4, which accounts for The Walking Dead's "Sing Me a Song," the installment where Carl and Negan got chummy. This comic-honoring ep earned the season's best delayed jump yet, percentage-wise. The episode was the first of the season to see an increase in viewers, with the previous Tara-focused episode getting the lowest Live+Same Day ratings since Season 3's midseason finale, and a whopping 50% of that 10.48 million-strong audience checked the episode out over the following week, which added 5.28 million viewers to the total viewership. According to TV By The Numbers, it jumped up 54% in the all-important 18-49 demographic, also, with the initial 5.0 rating ending at 7.7. (For comparison, the second highest demo rating for the night was a 2.2, and it came from Talking Dead.)
To be clear, that 5.28 million viewer increase isn't the biggest of the season so far, as the second episode brought in an additional 5.48 million pairs of eyes in delayed viewings. The lowest boost came for Tara's episode, which added 4.69 million (+45%), which is still a bigger audience than most cable series get. The Walking Dead may not be exceeding when compared to a former version of itself, but it's still one of the medium's most popular entities. Time to pose like Negan!
Perhaps The Walking Dead fans are becoming more comfortable with shedding the "appointment TV" behavior that has dictated primetime viewing for so many years. It's also easier than ever to catch episodes later than their initial airings, and AMC got pretty generous about giving non-subscribers access to episodes through their website, which didn't hurt things. It'll be interesting to see how things play out for The Walking Dead's ratings when it returns, since NBC's Sunday Night Football will no longer be there to distract that side of the demographic.
The Walking Dead will return to AMC for the stakes-raising back half of Season 7 on Sunday, February 12, 2017. To see when everything else is coming back and debuting, head to our midseason premiere schedule.