Here in the midst of its fifth season on AMC, Fear the Walking Dead is struggling more than it ever has in the numbers game, and it's unclear if there's anything to be done to spin audiences back around on the zombie drama. The most recent episode, the rabbi-introducing "Ner Tamid," unfortunately marked a new series low for Fear the Walking Dead's viewership, and tied its own lowest demo rating.
While Fear the Walking Dead's viewer stats were never on par with those of The Walking Dead's heyday, the companion series has generally kept fairly consistent Sunday-night numbers, with each season's average dipping a bit more than the previous season. The drop for Season 5, however, is a fairly stark one, seemingly representing the general public's consensus on the latest season as a whole, and "Ner Tamid" struck a sour note with a lot of the viewers that actually did stick around.
When the dust settled on the latest turmoil experienced by John, June, Charlie and Rabbi Jacob Kessner (Peter Jacobson), "Ner Tamid" had brought in just 1.14 million viewers, which re-shifted the markers for Fear the Walking Dead's lowest viewership with Live + Same Day totals. The previous low had only been set a couple of weeks ago with the episode "210 Words Per Minute," which was watched by 1.37 million people.
"Ner Tamid" also inspired Fear the Walking Dead's biggest total audience drop of the season, dipping around 300,000 from the previous week's episode. The biggest downtick before that came between the season premiere (1.97) and the second episode (1.69), but that was less of an issue since season premieres tend to be the most-watched episodes of a given season.
For its key demographic rating with adults aged 18-49, Fear the Walking Dead tied its previous series low of a 0.3 rating, which was also earned by the seventh episode of Season 5, titled "Still Standing." It's exactly half of Season 5's demo high, with the premiere episode getting the only 0.6 rating of the year so far.
Fear the Walking Dead's noticeable dip in the numbers would be a lot easier to swallow if there was some major event happening on TV on Sunday night, but the most popular program of the night was an episode of 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days. That episode pulled in 2.4 million viewers, and it earned a 0.8 demo rating. So it's not like there was a lot of stiff competition for Fear to have to overcome, though the Labor Day holiday might have played some minor factor in these totals.
Interestingly enough, hurricane coverage arguably had the biggest effect on Sunday night's TV viewing overall, in that The Weather Channel's programming nabbed 15 of the top 25 spots, according to TV By the Numbers. Just about all of that coverage fell into the 1.6-2.3 million viewers range, with an average 0.4 demo rating. That coverage ran throughout the entire day, though, so it unlikely that The Weather Channel is responsible for nabbing viewers away from Fear the Walking Dead.
Judging by everything here, it doesn't seem like Fear the Walking Dead is destined to completely revamp its viewership totals, and I'm not even sure how it could happen, barring bringing Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes over to the spinoff. While also casting Adam Sandler and Chris Hemsworth, and letting Lizzo do the soundtrack. Oh yeah, and by bringing Kim Dickens' Madison back, instead of just toying with viewers.
I can't imagine things will get better in the already renewed Season 6 if the show ends up killing off Grace and Alicia and anyone else who got radiation poisoning. One has to wonder if this kind of antipathy will also hinder the upcoming third Walking Dead universe TV show from prospering.
While Walking Dead fans are waiting on the return of Alpha and the Whisperers in Season 10, Fear the Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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