Cancellation Watch: The Walking Dead Returns Strong, But Can it Hold Up? Plus the Ratings Roundup

By | October 25, 2016

Unless otherwise noted, the ratings numbers below are based on the final overnights and may vary slightly from the preliminaries reported on the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site.

the-walking-dead-s7-finaleSeason Premiere: On Sunday, AMC’s The Walking Dead had its much anticipated Season 7 debut and enjoyed a stratospheric 8.4 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic with 17 million total viewers.  That has it close to the series high ratings it had with its Season 5 premiere where it pulled an 8.7 rating with 17.3 million total viewers.  TWD is definitely off to a strong start this year, but I have to wonder if it is not going to start seeing some serious declines in its numbers as the season progresses.  Many people tuned in to Sunday’s episode to see the resolution of the Season 6 cliffhanger in which new enemy Negan killed off one of the main cast members.  But last season’s finale raised plenty of controversy by leaving viewers hanging for months which was made worse by AMC turning hostile against fans for trying to guess who Negan’s victim was (and I called it all the way back in July, lawyers be damned!).  Plus, I am already hearing a lot of backlash against the Season 7 premiere for continuing to string fans along (it was nearly half way through the episode before the big reveal came) and also for its excessive violence.  Season 6 already turned off many people with its faux-death for Glenn, unnecessary cliffhangers, and further missteps.  This year’s first episode seems to have piled on even more, and you have to wonder at what point people will start bailing on the show.  I personally did not watch the episode because I’m still mad at how AMC turned on the show’s fans, but I did monitor it on Twitter to find out who died (I’m no spoiler-phobe).  I will at some point catch up with the Season 7, but there is too much else to watch right now so I will let that rest for a while.  And you have to wonder, with all the negative reactions, how many more will be making the same choice.  Of course, that’s not to say that I think the show will be in danger of cancellation anytime soon if at all.  TWD‘s Season 7 premiere had more than double the ratings of any other show currently on television, so it is plenty safe for now.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if that audience were to shrink considerably over the next season or two if it continues to pull these unnecessary stunts of stringing fans along.  I do believe that the show will still walk out on its own terms (probably four or five years down the road), but with a notably smaller audience than it has right now.

Ratings Results of Interest: On Friday, The CW’s Vampire Diaries returned for its eighth and final season and posted a 0.4 rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic with one million total viewers. That’s about where it was at the end of last season and I don’t expect its numbers to rise any higher until maybe it approaches its series finale. MacGyver remained at only a 1.1 rating with eight million total viewers for CBS on Friday, and I’m not certain if that is quite enough for the show. It does plug up an hour on that low viewership night, but the network might have been expecting higher number for that franchise reboot. The Exorcist also remained low at a 0.7 rating with 1.9 million total viewers and that show’s prospects remain bleak.  On Saturday, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency bowed on BBC America with only a 0.12 rating and 440k total viewers, but that one’s survival may be more heavily tied to its performance across the Atlantic in Britain.  On Sunday, HBO’s Westworld slipped to a 0.69 rating with 1.7 million total viewers, though that is to be expected considering the competition from The Walking Dead and NFL Football on the night.  Also slipping was Starz’s Ash vs. Evil Dead which had a 0.13 rating with 270k total viewers. Over on FOX, Son of Zorn slipped to a series low 1.0 rating with 2.3 million total viewers as that one continues its trend of poor performance without a strong lead-in.  I previously looked at the Monday through Thursday shows from last week at this link.

Ratings results for the sci fi / fantasy shows airing Monday October 17th thru Sunday October 23rd (metric definitions below):

(Links are to the show pages on this site with season to date ratings results and status updates)

Series Airs Rating % Chng Tot Viewers STD Avg Benchmark Cancel Alert
Supergirl CW, Mon 8 PM 0.9 -18.2% 2.7 1.0 0.6 Low
Gotham FOX, Mon 8 PM 1.2 +9.1% 3.3 1.2 1.2 Low
Lucifer FOX, Mon 9 PM 1.1 +10.0% 3.6 1.1 1.2 Low
Timeless NBC, Mon 10 PM 1.5 +7.1% 5.9 1.6 1.8 Low
The Flash CW, Tue 8 PM 1.0 -9.1% 2.7 1.1 0.6 Low
Scream Queens FOX, Tue 9 PM 0.6 -14.3% 1.4 0.8 1.2 Medium
Scream MTV, Tue 9 PM 0.1 n/a 0.3 0.1 0.3 Medium
Channel Zero Syfy, Tue 9 PM 0.2 -4.0% 0.6 0.2 0.2 Low
Agents of SHIELD ABC, Tue 10 PM 0.7 -22.2% 2.3 0.9 1.4 Medium
Aftermath Syfy, Tue 10 PM 0.2 +33.3% 0.6 0.2 0.2 Low
Arrow CW, Wed 8 PM 0.6 -14.3% 1.8 0.7 0.6 Low
Frequency CW, Wed 9 PM 0.3 n/a 1.0 0.3 0.6 Low
American Horror Story FX, Wed 10 PM 1.4 -6.8% 2.5 1.8 0.6 Renewed
Legends of Tomorrow CW, Thu 8 PM 0.7 +16.7% 1.8 0.7 0.6 Low
The Good Place NBC, Thu 8:30 PM 1.0 -16.7% 3.8 1.4 1.8 Low
Supernatural CW, Thu 9 PM 0.6 -25.0% 1.6 0.7 0.6 Low
Falling Water USA, Thu 10 PM 0.2 -15.8% 0.5 0.2 0.3 Medium
MacGyver CBS, Fri 8 PM 1.1 0.0% 8.0 1.3 1.6 Low
Vampire Diaries CW, Fri 8 PM 0.4 n/a 1.0 0.4 0.6 Low
The Exorcist FOX, Fri 9 PM 0.7 0.0% 1.9 0.7 1.2 Medium
Z Nation Syfy, Fri 9 PM 0.2 -11.5% 0.8 0.3 0.2 Low
Van Helsing Syfy, Fri 10 PM 0.2 -5.9% 0.6 0.2 0.2 Renewed
Star Wars Rebels DXD, Sat 8:30 PM 0.2 +23.1% 0.5 0.2 0.1 Low
Dirk Gentlys Holistic Detective Agency DXD, Sat 9 PM 0.1 n/a 0.4 0.0 0.1 Low
Once Upon A Time ABC, Sun 8 PM 1.0 -9.1% 3.4 1.1 1.4 Low
Ash vs Evil Dead Starz, Sun 8 PM 0.1 -31.6% 0.3 0.2 0.2 Renewed
Son of Zorn FOX, Sun 8:30 PM 1.0 -33.3% 2.3 1.5 1.2 Low
The Walking Dead AMC, Sun 9 PM 8.4 n/a 17.0 8.4 0.6 Renewed
Westworld HBO, Sun 9 PM 0.7 -25.0% 1.7 0.8 0.6 Low
The Last Man on Earth FOX, Sun 9:30 PM 0.9 -18.2% 2.1 1.0 1.2 Moderate
The Strain FX, Sun 10 PM 0.4 +17.6% 0.9 0.4 0.6 Renewed

Chart Activity: As expected, AMC’s The Walking Dead placed high in the Weekly Nielsen Social Net Rating Top 10 (Facebook trending has now been added) for the week, coming in at Number 2 behind only the Presidential Debates.  FOX’s remake of The Rocky Horror Picture show came in at Number 3 on that chart and American Horror Story slipped a few notches due to the competition to Number 6 (down from Number 4). As expected, Supernatural did not remain in the chart after it Season 12 premiere surge. The Walking Dead topped both cable Top 25 ratings charts with its premiere, beating out the Presidential Debates, football, baseball playoffs and more. American Horror Story slipped to Number 14 in the cable chart based on the overnights for the 18-49 demo and fell completely out of the chart based on total viewers. MacGyver managed to return to the broadcast net Top 25 based on total viewers, and Rocky Horror placed in the broadcast net chart for the demo at Number 22.

(Updated for the broadcast network and cable Top 25 chart activity)

Series Chart Curr Wk Rank Prior Wk Rank
American Horror Story Nielsen Twitter Ratings Top 10 6 4
American Horror Story Cable Top 25 (18-49 Demo) 14 5
American Horror Story Cable Top 25 (Total Viewers) n/a 20
MacGyver Broadcast Net Top 25 (Total Viewers) 22 n/a
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Nielsen Twitter Ratings Top 10 3 n/a
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Broadcast Net Top 25 (18-49 Demo) 22 n/a
Supernatural Nielsen Twitter Ratings Top 10 n/a 6
The Walking Dead Nielsen Twitter Ratings Top 10 2 n/a
The Walking Dead Cable Top 25 (18-49 Demo) 1 n/a
The Walking Dead Cable Top 25 (Total Viewers) 1 n/a

Be sure keep an eye out for the latest numbers and any breaking news throughout the week at the  Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site and Facebook Page. You can see the status of all the currently airing sci fi / fantasy shows at the Cancellation Watch page and also the latest Cancellation Watch Hit List post. And for more information on where I get these numbers and how I make my Cancellation Alert assessments, check out the Cancelled Sci Fi FAQ.

Metric Definitions:

Series: (R) indicates a repeat airing

Rating: Overnight rating in the 18-49 demographic for same day viewing based on the final numbers unless otherwise noted

% Chng: The percentage change +/- for this week’s rating vs. last week’s rating (if a new episode aired last week).

Tot Viewers: Estimated total viewers (age 2+) to tune in to the episode for same day viewing.

StD Rating: Season to date average for the rating metric tracked above.

Net Bench (Network Benchmark):  For the broadcast networks, this is the net’s season to date average rating based on the overnights for the 18-49 demographic for non-sports, non-special, non-repeat broadcasts.  For the cable channels, this is the lowest level at which a show is typically renewed by that network if there are enough genre entries on that channel to provide a decent sample.

Cancellation Alert: My prediction of the likelihood that a show will get cancelled. From least to most likely the statuses are Low, Moderate, Medium, Elevated, and High.

Source: ShowBuzzDaily and TV by the Numbers

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