Relax, The Walking Dead fans, just being really dominant and not incredibly dominant is good enough for AMC CEO Josh Sapan.
The network boss addressed the show's declining ratings to Wall Street today at an event sponsored by the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York City, and from the sounds of it, no one at AMC is worried.
"[The Walking Dead is] pretty alive and vital and there's a long time that we're going to be playing with The Walking Dead," Sapan said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
"There's a long time that we're going to be playing with The Walking Dead" should be all that fans need for reassurance. The Walking Dead is that rare property where that statement isn't just blustery executive talk.
The Walking Dead has seen its overall ratings fall since the Season 5 premiere drew an incredible 17.3 million viewers. The midseason premiere for Season 7 drew the lowest average viewership or a season since Season 3. Only 11.35 million viewers tuned in for that, despite a huge spike for the season start which came in to the tune of 17 million to see who Negan killed.
Even with declining viewership and ratings, the show was still the highest-rated series in 2016 -- The Walking Dead's seasons are split in halves across the new year, so 2016 saw the second half of Season 6 and the first half of Season 7 -- with an 8.8 rating, according to TV By the Numbers, which gave it plenty of cushion over The Big Bang Theory's second-place finish with 5.5. I'd say the series has at least five seasons left in its tank -- probably many more.
The Walking Dead is expected to return for Season 8 in October on AMC.