The Walking Dead, AMCs cash cow of a franchise, was met with a lot of criticism over the summer as the showrunners decided to end the previous season on a cliffhanger as to the death of a “major” character to be revealed at the start of season 7, later revealed to have been the two characters many guessed it would be killing (though not both at once).
While this was clearly a stunt to drive up declining viewer numbers and was heavily advertised in the run up to the reveal itself, which caused a surge in viewer numbers not seen for many seasons, resulting in the show achieving the second all-time highest ratings at 17.03 million viewers overnight (http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/daily-ratings/sunday-cable-ratings-oct-23-2016-walking-dead-premiere/) which caused desirable headlines and fanfare on sites all over the internet. Viewer retention however, which was under intense scrutiny to begin with, can only be described as a failure with the show only being able to pull back 12.46 million overnight to the second episode, a fall of 27% (http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/daily-ratings/sunday-cable-ratings-oct-30-2016/) . This is a far more significant decline when compared to the previous high of season 5 (which saw a fall from 17.29 to 15.14 million between episodes one and two).
While criticism will focus on the fact overnight ratings aren’t as important as they used to be such a large loss of viewers isn’t easy to overlook, especially as the show was relying heavily on said killings in episode one as the big sell of this season. Whether continued loss of viewers continues remains to be seen.