Things are only getting worse for The Walking Dead season 9 in the ratings department. Last week's season premiere, which was hyped up quite a bit by AMC, wound up being the lowest-rated premiere since the show debuted. And the second episode of season 9 took an even sharper turn in the wrong direction, posting a new record for the all-time series low. Is it time to hit the panic button?

The latest episode, titled The Bridge, earned a 2.0 rating in the key 18-49 demographic. The previous series low was a 2.4, which came during season 1. The episode brought in a total of 5 million viewers which, looking on the plus side, isn't actually the lowest number The Walking Dead has ever seen. Season 1's low was clocked at 4.7 million viewers, but the show is still, overall, suffering big time in the ratings. The 5 million figure represents a 21 percent decline when compared to the season 9 premiere.

While The Walking Dead remains a huge hit, relative to other shows on cable currently, the decline is tough not to pay attention to. Especially considering that, at its high-point, the zombie series, which is based on Robert Kirkman's Image Comics series of the same name, drew in 17 million viewers. That is a tremendous decline and the trend is continuing downward. At this point, one would think the network has to be at least a little bit concerned, even if they're not declaring that message publically, which is something they wouldn't likely do. But numbers don't (usually) lie when it comes to this stuff.

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One consideration that needs to be made is the changing times. AMC has been focusing on their ad-free service, AMC Premiere, which now makes The Walking Dead available early to subscribers. So that is probably cutting into those numbers a bit. Plus, there are just simply more options now when it comes to what people can watch. And the series had a slow couple of seasons that put some viewers off. With a serialized show, it can be very tough to earn viewers back.

Even so, this season is very much focused on the future of the series, which the network has lofty plans for. Be it through spin-offs or what have you, AMC recently revealed they intend to continue this universe for another decade. Those plans, given the downward trend in ratings, may very well seem overly ambitious now. Granted, the numbers will look better once DVR and streaming numbers are factored in later this week.

It's particularly interesting that The Walking Dead season 9 has failed to captivate viewers, as Lauren Cohan (Maggie) and, more importantly, Andrew Lincoln (Rick) are both set to depart during this year's story. Considering that Rick has been the lead since the very beginning, one might have thought people would want to see how he goes out. That begs the question; how bad are things going to get once he is gone? The Walking Dead airs Sundays on AMC. This news was previously reported by Deadline.