August 12, 2013

THE SKED: “Breaking Bad” Breaks Big


AMC executives may have felt like they’d been doing some meth themselves this morning–in a good way.  Five and a half seasons into its run, BREAKING BAD returned for its final 8 episodes with a vengeance, exploding to a total viewership of 5.9M.  That’s not just the highest rating by far in the show’s history, it more than doubles the viewership for the premiere of the first half of Season 5 last year–an amazing accomplishment.  It was equally remarkable in the 18-49 demo, where it again almost doubled last year’s premiere ratings, delivering 3.6M viewers, which should translate into a 2.9-3.0 rating.  That’s not quite at the level of The Walking Dead (its Season 3 finale had 12.4M total viewers, 8.1M of them 18-49), but it puts Breaking Bad at the upper end of all other cable drama–and with 18-49 numbers that even a broadcast network would be more than happy to get these days.  Demand for the final season was clearly fueled by the availability of the show on VOD, Netflix and other streaming platforms, and this may very well not even be the peak for Breaking Bad, which airs its series finale in 7 weeks (and last night’s sensational episode won’t be moving many viewers far from the edge of their seats before then).

That huge lead-in helped the premiere of the network’s LOW WINTER SUN, which had 2.5M total viewers and what should be a very solid 1.1 rating in 18-49s.  (We’ll see next week, of course, how many viewers return for more.)  Even the new TALKING BAD talkshow had 1.2M total viewers and 0.5-0.6 in 18-49s, not bad for a show that costs about 5 bucks to produce.

The good news continued for AMC as the move to Saturday didn’t seem to hurt HELL ON WHEELS, which had 2.5M total viewers, roughly equal to last year’s Sunday premiere–a very good number for Saturday.  (AMC didn’t report its 18-49 rating, not surprising since as a western, Hell has always skewed old.)


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."