When historians look back on the history of television, they will likely devote an entire chapter of their book to AMC. The network went through an enormous surge throughout the golden age of television, and much of that can be attributed to the insane success of The Walking Dead. The zombie series has experienced nearly unprecedented popularity since its debut in 2010, and it has become one of the most successful shows in the history of TV. Unfortunately, it's one of the only shows on the network to do so. AMC's success is expressly linked to The Walking Dead's ability to thrive, and that means that the show's current ratings dip is setting back the network's profits.
A report from Variety confirms that AMC was one of three major entertainment companies to experience a loss in the stock market in 2016, with Viacom and Lionsgate being the other two losing companies. AMC Networks suffered a 30% stock drop over the course of the last year, and there appears to be a very clear correlation between the financial hit and the current ratings dip experienced by The Walking Dead during its seventh season. The zombie series is currently drawing in its lowest total viewership since its third season, and that decline seems to have directly impacted AMC's monetary gains.
Before any of you Walking Dead fans start to panic, it is worth remembering that these numbers are relative. Yes, The Walking Dead has experienced a dip in viewership over the course of its seventh season, but it is still cleaning up when we compare it to other shows. The biggest thing to note here is the fact that AMC's stock is very clearly tied to the ratings success of the series. This is because The Walking Dead is clearly the big ratings winner for the network. While AMC has had modest successes with shows like Better Call Saul or Fear The Walking Dead, none come close to the flagship zombie drama. As such, the numbers are probably something the network should be paying attention to. The network will not always be able to rely on The Walking Dead, and it needs to debut another smash hit or a few steadier hits to keep the balance.
Spoilers are in this paragraph. The Walking Dead has dealt with a little controversy at the end of last season leading to this season. The series pissed off some of its fans by ending its sixth season on a cliffhanger, and then it came back with a brutal Season 7 premiere -- which saw Negan murder fan-favorite characters, Abraham Ford AND Glenn Rhee. Following this series of controversial events, social media featured posts and articles from angry fans claiming to be "done" with the series, which may have led to some of the lower viewership this season.
That said, it might be worth it for fans to return to the series, as it appears to be moving in an exciting direction. Sure, the first half of Season 7 was a complete bummer, but it was designed that way. The season is moving in a more positive direction, and that tonal shift might be what The Walking Dead (and AMC) needs to maintain its audience base.
CinemaBlend will bring you any and all relevant updates related to the seventh season of The Walking Dead (as well as AMC's other original series) as more information is made available to us. The Walking Dead will return on Sunday, February 12 at 9 p.m. EST. For more information on all of the most highly anticipated spring television debuts, make sure to check out our comprehensive midseason premiere guide and fill out your TV viewing schedules accordingly!