‘The Walking Dead’ premiere clobbers ratings, but sparks backlash for violence

The Walking Dead Season 7
(Spoiler alert: don’t read on unless you’ve watched the season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead.)

The Walking Dead’s season 7 premiere saw more than just two victims get clobbered — the episode also walloped the ratings for the evening, raking in 17 million viewers, overtaking everything else that was on TV on Sunday night, including football.

The episode received an 8.4 rating in the important 18-49 demographic and 10.5 million viewers among adults aged 25-54. Using the same metrics, this is essentially double the ratings of Empire (which received a 4.1 rating in the 18-49 demographic), the current ratings darling among younger viewers. What is more, 7.6 million people watched the special 90-minute talk show Talking Dead that aired immediately following the episode.

This was not a record for the popular AMC show — the season five premiere brought in 17.28 million viewers who wanted to find out what happened to the characters after they were imprisoned in a train car, awaiting their literal roasting in Terminus. But it is pretty impressive for a series that is already in its seventh season and clearly still going strong. It may prove that the six-month cliffhanger worked, despite viewers’ anger over the long wait.

That said, the ratings-busting premiere also brought some negative attention, not just for the choice of the two victims (Abraham, played by Michael Cudlitz and Glenn, played by Steven Yeun), but for the extremely graphic way in which they were killed. Brutal deaths are not unconventional for primetime television series. But the scenes were straight out of a horror flick, causing viewers to cringe at the ferocious nature of the kills that showed Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) forcefully bludgeoning both men’s heads to a bloody pulp.

Sure, viewers have come to expect violence — what else, after all, could one presume to see in an apocalyptic show that centers around zombies? But some felt it was too violent, even for The Walking Dead. The Verge started a Walking Dead Quitter’s Club last year, protesting the show’s presumed manipulation of viewers, and said this episode was the nail in the coffin to convince many to follow through with the threat. Tim Winter, President of the Parents Television Council, told The Hollywood Reporter that the episode was “one of the most graphically violent shows we’ve ever seen on television,” noting he felt the depictions “crossed the line.” He called the graphic nature of the violence a “crutch for what used to be better storytelling.” Winter believes that the show needs a more restrictive rating than its TV-MA (Mature Audiences) designation.

With The Walking Dead already renewed for its eighth season, we will bet that each coming episode will be watched with more scrutiny. Whether those quitters follow through or give the series another chance, however, will be discovered as we keep an eye on the ratings through the rest of season 7.

Home Theater

Netflix paid $100M to keep ‘Friends,’ but viewers may pay the highest price

Netflix reportedly paid $100 million to keep '90s sitcom Friends on its service for another year, but the cost consumers might have to pay for access to their favorite shows and movies down the road could be much, much higher.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

Ice meets fire in HBO's latest 'Game of Thrones' season 8 teaser

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.
Movies & TV

The 10 best 'Black Mirror' episodes are thought-provoking, disturbing, mesmerizing

After watching all 19 episodes across four seasons and one special, we've selected and ranked the best Black Mirror episodes released so far. Read on to find out if your favorite episode from the award-winning Netflix series made the list.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Killing Eve'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

Avengers 4 teaser trailer has finally arrived: Prepare for ‘Avengers: Endgame’

Marvel Studios has released the first teaser trailer for Avengers 4, which reveals the film's official title, Avengers: Endgame. The sequel to Avengers: Infinity War, the movie will now premiere in April 2019.
Home Theater

Now-canceled ‘Daredevil’ was one of Netflix’s most popular shows

Netflix recently canceled Marvel's Daredevil just a month after the premiere of the show's third season, despite reports indicating that it was one of the service's most popular shows.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Movies & TV

Brie Larson powers up in the latest 'Captain Marvel' trailer

Academy Award winner Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel in the upcoming Marvel Studios movie hitting theaters in March 2019. Here's everything we know about Marvel's first female-led superhero movie.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.

'Avengers: Endgame' trailer chills, 'Game of Thrones' teaser, $100M 'Friends'

This week on Between the Streams, we'll talk about the Avengers 4 trailer (aka Avengers: Endgame), the latest nothing of a Game of Thrones teaser, Netflix's $100 million barter to keep Friends, and much more!
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Home Theater

Sling TV ramps up its base programming with Discovery Networks for free

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.