The season premiere for "The Walking Dead" was one of the most-hyped television episodes of the Fall 2016 season after an incredible cliffhanger at the end of the show's Season 6 destined to kill a main character at the turn of the year. The episode came and went, scoring an incredible 10.7 million live viewers and 22.3 million delayed viewers, but since then, the ratings for the show have declined considerably.

The numbers

Since debuting Season 7 on October 23, the show saw a huge ratings hit from the first episode, "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be," to the second episode, "The Well." The Nielsen-recorded 17.03 million viewers declined to 12.46 million viewers.

A further downturn came last week with "The Cell," which had 11.72 million viewers. This Sunday's episode, "Service," will be extended to 90 minutes.

Analyzing the numbers

There are several reasons the numbers could be falling for "The Walking Dead." For starters, a television show generally loses viewers over the course of the season as the narrative arc takes shape. Networks put a lot of hype and promotion into the premiere episode to attract new viewers, but as the show settles into its rhythm, normally the old viewers are retained while the newer ones fall off.

Another issue for the show is one they have no control over -- the channel's location and the show's timeslot. AMC is a cable network, destined to always struggle to gain the same traction basic channels CBS, NBC, FOX, and ABC have.

By airing on Sunday night, the show is put in direct competition with NBC's Sunday Night Football, one of the most-hyped national sporting events of the week during the fall.

It's possible that the gore of the premiere episode turned people off, as some have speculated, but "The Walking Dead" has always been a gory and violent show, so it seems unlikely that turned away traditional viewers.

Overall, fans shouldn't be in a panic about the ratings. The show is still putting up robust numbers and has been renewed for both this season and an eighth season in 2017 -- "The Walking Dead" isn't going anywhere.

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