The next episode of "The Walking Dead" Season 6 should dress the walkers and/or Wolves up in sports jerseys, since that's the real threat this year.

"The Walking Dead" is used to massive overall and 18-49 demographic numbers, and it's still doing incredibly well, just not as well as before. The premiere numbers had gone up every season until this one, from just over 5 million in Season 1, to just over 7 million, over 10 million, over 16 million, over 17 million, to ... just over 14 million in Season 6. [sad trombone] That's not really bad, just less than usual, and it doesn't cover the Live + 3 Day ratings everyone loves nowadays because they include delayed viewing from DVR, On Demand, etc. But it's possible that Season 6 in Alexandria just isn't as must-see-ASAP as the cliffhanger of Season 5's How Will They Get Out of Terminus.

Apparently investors are taking note. Deadline said AMC Networks' stock price staggered on October 20, following the release of less-than-stellar ratings for Season 6, Episode 2. There was also a drop last week after the premiere's disappointing numbers.

Season 6 started with a 90-minute episode and just had a killer hour in Episode 2, "JSS."Deadline shared a details ratings assessment, mentioning Episode 2's major competition from Sunday Night Football and Game 2 of the National League Championship Series:

Sunday's "JSS" episode of Walking Dead drew 12.2 million total viewers with 7.8 million among adults 18-49 for a 6.2 rating, according to Nielsen. That's a 16% drop among viewers and a 17% decline in the demo from the Season 6 debut on October 11. While down from the Season 5 opener, the S6 premiere did beat a wilting SNF among the key demo. [...] Compared to last year's TWD Week 2, this year's was down 19% in total viewers and 20% in the demo. That's just a touch more than the show fell from Week 1 to Week 2 in Season 5 and in Season 4 – and there's further competition to consider as well. While the series based on Robert Kirkman's comics faced a strong SNF with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on October 19 last year, it did not face a highly watched baseball playoff game too, as it did this year."

TWD fans may want to watch sports live, but that doesn't mean they forget about the zombie show. That's why, Deadline notes, AMC has been focusing on the Live + 3 numbers. On that note, they added:

Last week saw lifts of 33% and 36% in total audience and 18-49 demo, respectively, for TWD in L+3. The all-time delayed viewing record for TWD was the second episode of the second part of the fifth season, which saw a 42% jump for total viewership of the February 15's L+SD numbers and 45% in the key demo. Despite this most recent slide, with its massive and historically loyal fan base very much intact, this week's TWD could see rises close to those numbers when AMC puts out latest L+3 figures later this week."

So don't ugly cry ala Daryl for Merle until this week's delayed viewing numbers come in. And even if those numbers are soft, it's not like "The Walking Dead" needs to be put down. (The show will JSS!) The real tell should be in this next Episode 3, "Thank You," since everyone who didn't watch Episode 2 live probably heard about the absolute ownage by Carol and others at Alexandria. Maybe the premiere didn't seem like must-see TV, but things are getting good now and even the casuals are going to want to catch up before spoilers ruin the surprise.

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