The Walking Dead Season 9

Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

"The Walking Dead" itself may not last for another decade, but the "universe" it has created will continue.

Because everything is a "universe" now.

Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC Extended Universe, The Conjuring Universe, heck even The Vampire Diaries has its own universe. Your family should add "Universe" to your last name to stay on trend.

AMC CEO Josh Sapan was at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference (!!!) talking up the network's plans, when he was asked about declining ratings for the flagship series "The Walking Dead."

Here's his reply, via The Hollywood Reporter:
Asked about the weaker ratings for AMC hit show The Walking Dead, Sapan argued the popular series was more of a franchise. "The Walking Dead is a universe...and we have a plan to manage over the next decade, plus. That plan is a careful plan to respect the world of the fans of that world," he argued, as Sapan pointed to Fear of the Walking Dead as an extension of The Walking Dead franchise.

"Fear the Walking Dead" is part of that growing "universe" now, but the overall viewers and 18-49 demo ratings for "Fear" Season 4 are nothing to brag about. "The Walking Dead" itself is still doing much better -- even after the steep drops of Season 8, it's still the most watched and highest rated cable show. But the upcoming TWD Season 9 is about to lose Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). AMC's promos are now using that as a selling point to get fans to watch, but are fans going to keep watching after he is gone?

Scott M. Gimple is no longer "The Walking Dead" showrunner, but he was instead apparently promoted to Chief Content Officer, aka master of this shared universe. During Comic-Con, Gimple teased plans for another spinoff (via Geek Tyrant):
"I’m working on something to announce [that will affect] the past, present, and future of the universe. [...] We have a bunch of different things in mind, cool new 'Walking Dead' stuff. Some things that are really complementary to the stuff we're doing now and some stuff that's far afield and very different."

So that must be part of the "next decade, plus" that AMC is planning.

Will you be there to see it all play out?

"The Walking Dead" Season 9 premieres Sunday, October 7 on AMC.

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