‘Breaking Bad’ Ratings Down in Season 5; Is Netflix To Blame?

Published 3 years ago by , Updated August 8th, 2012 at 9:51 am,

breaking bad season 5 king Breaking Bad Ratings Down in Season 5; Is Netflix To Blame?

The final chapter of Walter White may have found the Breaking Bad season 5 premiere breaking ratings records for the series, but it appears that trend may be on the decline, as the second episode of the season saw ratings drop by 21%.

Premiering to 2.9 million viewers, AMC announced that the ratings for the Breaking Bad season 5 premiere were up overall: “a 14 percent increase in viewers compared to last season’s premiere, including an increase of 34 percent in the coveted 18-49 demographic.” However, following the second episode airing, the ratings had dropped by 21%, down to 2.3 million viewers.

With Breaking Bad being appropriately touted as one of the best television series ever, audiences – even those who are unfamiliar with the series – will likely be compelled to tune in, if only to see what everyone is talking about. Combine that with the fact that premieres always show an exponential increase in ratings and the ratings drop starts to make sense.

That being said, once you throw the Netflix factor into it, an interesting notion presents itself. Like many great series on the air today, Netflix has become a way for audiences to catch up on, rewatch, or be introduced to Breaking Bad. Unlike most series, Breaking Bad has its entire catalog available to Netflix’s millions of subscribers (season 1-4).

Essentially turning what is typically a 4 month seasonal viewing experience into a weekend of watching, audiences can become too familiar with the ability to immediately watch the next episode – and the next – until you’re completely caught up. Attempting to feed the desire for more Walter White in one’s daily viewing schedule, audiences rightfully turn to live viewing.

While live viewing directly leads to the success of any series (and typically its continuation), it also means that there’s a week’s wait in-between. For many series, the week’s wait is often supplemented by cliff hangers and/or planned storytelling that lends itself for that type of broadcasting. Breaking Bad, however, is not like most series – in many ways.

breaking bad season 5 Breaking Bad Ratings Down in Season 5; Is Netflix To Blame?

Often mirroring the same subtle journey that Walter White is on, Breaking Bad’s dense, intense character-driven narrative can make live viewing a strain on some viewers – especially for those who are intensely invested in the story. Since a weekly viewing of Breaking Bad brings with it 7 days of anticipatory waiting, the always suspense-filled episodic installments of Breaking Bad may dissuade viewers from watching the show in this way, especially after experiencing it through Netflix instant streaming.

On top of that, Breaking Bad’s final season is actually airing over 2 years, which converts its typically 4 month, 13 episode season into a 2 month, 8 episode per year programming run-around. Having to wait an entire year to even begin Walter White’s truly final chapter, some of the audience might simply wait to completely delve into the beautifully chaotic world of Breaking Bad.

Of course, even if Breaking Bad’s ratings do continue to decline (which is likely, if only slightly), Vince Gilligan’s television opus has already secured his final chapter’s place in the programming lineup. So whether or not you’re a weekly viewer of Breaking Bad, take solace in the knowledge that the tale will be concluded the way that Gilligan has always planned.

And for any fan of television, there’s nothing greater than being able to witness a creator bring his or her story to its appropriate end.


Breaking Bad airs Sundays @10pm on AMC

Follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio

Source: Entertainment Weekly

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  1. this is a half-arsed theory because it is only half the story. It is equally likely that for every person netflicks took away it brought a new one who wouldnt be watching live at all if they couldnt have caught up with netflix.

    also netflix is only one online delivery method… just about every show is availble within 30min of airing by appending “tpb” to the show name and episode number.

  2. I dont watch tv shows thats have 10 months to a year before i can see a new season( series in UK ), thats jacked-up. guess what, wait until the whole sha-bang is over and watch it then. thats what i do now, so much enjoyable than waiting a year before new episodes, example, does anyone remember what Utopia was about, oh thats right know one cares after being gone a year!!!

  3. Back in Season 1 I was so frustrated with all the commercials I actually timed it and the 50ish minute episodes were taking 2 hrs. to air and that is insane for a show like this. Since then I learned to wait until Monday mornings and watch it either On Demand, Project T.V. or Netflix. I was so pumped for “Granite State” I tried to watch it on Sunday p.m. on AMC but couldn’t handle the constant breaks and had to turn it off and start over the next day “On Demand”. That explains my addition to the ratings drop.