For five damn years, Breaking Bad was one of the many shows we often talk about as being much, much better than its ratings reflect. It’s ratings have traditionally been so low that we often question the intelligence (and sanity) of America. This final season — thanks a lot to both word of mouth and easy Netflix availability — Breaking Bad finally surged in the ratings, virtually tripling its viewers upon its return, and last night, the series went out with a goddamn Mercury Fulminate blast.
The series finale was seen by 10.3 million, which is four million more viewers than just LAST week’s episode (that Breaking Bad marathon on AMC, I suspect, added at least one million viewers). That’s especially impressing, considering the fact that the series debuted with only 1.4 million viewers, and that it broke 2 million only once in its first four seasons. The growth — this late in the series’ run — has been insane.
Indeed, the finale had more viewers than anything ever on AMC outside of The Walking Dead. The show did even better in the 18-49 demo, where — despite competition from the networks, as well as Boardwalk Empire and the return of Homeland — it’s 6.7 million viewers crushed every other scripted program on television in its time slot (it was beaten only by Sunday night football). It even lifted Talking Bad to 4.4 million viewers, and a 2.3 in the 18-49 demo, which was good enough to beat both ABC and CBS in the time slot. That’s right: A show talking about another show beat new shows on the networks. If that isn’t another death knell to the networks, I don’t know what is.
If you’re curious, Homeland’s third season premiere debuted with 1.9 million viewers up against Breaking Bad, which is better than the 1.7 million who tuned in for the second season premiere. I suspect it will gain a lot more viewers on DVR this week, as well. Meanwhile, Masters of Sex, which was terrific, debuted with a solid 1 million viewers for Showtime.