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Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.
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‘The Walking Dead’ ratings dip again but all is not lost

Originally posted Tuesday, October 23, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

For folks who have chosen to stick with “The Walking Dead” this season, they have been duly rewarded. With new showrunner Angela Kang on board, the first three episodes show sharper story-telling, more realistic dialogue and some genuine surprises.

On Metacritic, fans of the show has given this season the highest ranking (7.1) since season five (also 7.1), when the show’s popularity peaked.

The problem: millions of fans abandoned ship seasons seven and eight during the ill-fated Rick/Negan war and are not ever coming back.

“The Walking Dead” hit its lowest overnight numbers since season one week two with 4.95 million viewers. DVR and on-demand usage will certainly boost that to closer to 10 million. But this is a show that regularly drew 20-plus million viewers, counting DVR usage, as recently as two years ago. 

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All is not lost. The third episode saw a small bounce back up to 5.03 million viewers from week two. Over nine seasons, this is the fourth time the third episode did better than the second episode and the first time since season six.

Year over year, the third episode is down 40 percent in overnight viewers vs. season eight. 

AMC’s marketing department is working super hard to get more viewers by promoting Rick Grimes’ pending departure. Rick has only two episodes left and will be gone by November 4. That episode will likely see an immediate overnight boost. 

Andrew Lincoln, who plays Grimes, decided to leave for personal reasons. But he told Entertainment Weekly he thinks the show will be able to morph and shift easier without Rick.

“What I don’t want to do is stay too long when I think the show will actually benefit from other people taking the reins and forging a new path,” he said. “And that’s what I think is happening now. It’s beautiful watching and seeing my dear friends who are incredible actors doing extraordinary things and turning it into a new show. And that is enormously gratifying.”

SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD

The most recent episode Sunday sets up a major confrontation between Rick and many of his supposed allies such as Daryl, Maggie and the women of Oceanside. (And now he has Anna gone rogue as well.)

Rick wants peace and forgiveness for the Sanctuary members. But after Maggie hanged Gregory in episode one, Cyndie was inspired to target the Sanctuary members who tortured and killed their men. Maggie and Daryl at the end of episode three, are on their way to Alexandria to confront the jailed Negan. And the Sanctuary crew left the bridge repair in protest of the disappearance and death of several of their people. 

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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