AMC continues to see viewers abandoning The Walking Dead as the latest episode hit a new series low in the ratings. While the zombie series, which is adapted from Robert Kirkman's Image Comics title of the same name, remains one of the most popular shows on all of cable, it's been on a steep decline, in terms of popularity, over the past few years. It reached its peak in 2014, topping 17 million viewers. At this point, it doesn't seem to matter if the show takes a turn for the best in the quality department.

Last Sunday's episode Omega, which took a dive into one of the leaders of the Whisperers, the show's latest major threat, was seemingly well-received, generally speaking, by critics and fans. Despite that, the episode totaled just 4.5 million viewers. That marks a 12 percent decline in viewership when compared to the season 9 mid-season premiere, which aired on February 10 and brought in 5.2 million total viewers. This shows the downward trend is continuing, which really got going in season 7, following that frustrating Negan cliffhanger fans were faced with at the end of season 6.

The Walking Dead was facing some unusually stiff competition in the form of the NBA All-Star game last Sunday. That said, it would be hard to blame the low number on LeBron James. While the series remains a massive hit and is in no danger of cancellation, this is still an issue that AMC has been facing for the past several years and, considering their lofty plans to expand the franchise beyond Fear the Walking Dead, as well as the trilogy of Rick Grimes movies starring Andrew Lincoln, it's hard not to wonder if the network will begin to worry, and at what point they'll begin to rethink their strategy.

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It's difficult to say precisely why the ratings have been falling so steadily. This season has seen a dramatic shift. Not only did Andrew Lincoln depart as Rick Grimes, alongside Lauren Cohan as Maggie (who may or may not return at some point down the line), but the series took a huge leap forward in time. We're now largely focused on a very different looking group of survivors, with Judith Grimes left to carry on her family's legacy. Are viewers less interested now that there are so few original characters left?

If that's the case, it certainly isn't good news for AMC that Danai Gurira intends to leave during season 10, since Michonne has been one of the most popular characters on the series since her debut. In any event, showrunner Angela Kang recently stated that they don't view season 10 as the last season of the series. Until such a time that viewership declines to the point that the show is no longer profitable, it seems the network will stay the course. The Walking Dead returns Sunday and is going up against the Oscars over on ABC. This news was previously reported by Deadline.

Ryan Scott at TVweb
Ryan Scott